Rising star of the classical guitar world returns to his roots

On Saturday evening St Peter’s Church in Kinver was full of expectant people awaiting the appearance of local guitarist Michael Christian Durrant. Outside it was chilly and more than a little breezy, but inside candles blazed aloft at the end of every pew and a warm magenta glow lit up the sandstone around the stained glass of the magnificent east window. In the chancel, the stage – purpose-built – was set.

This was no ordinary local musician. Publicity had promised us quality in the shape of “A forerunner in the new generation of classical guitarists” (BBC Radio 3), and as soon as Michael opened his performance with an arrangement of Greensleeves, we knew we were in safe and astonishingly talented hands. The familiar melody emerged from elaborate textures created by a mere six strings and I could sense a kind of delighted relaxation amongst the audience. We were in for a treat.Continue Reading

A beginners’ day out at the Birmingham Literature Festival

How can I not have been to the Birmingham Literature Festival before now? Ten days of events around writers, books and ideas, virtually on the doorstep – well, better late than never, I suppose. Nor had I been to the newly-built Birmingham Conservatoire, and I would have expected my first encounter with that impressive spaceContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Looking after the semitones with Run By Singers

During a week of singing in southern Spain I lost count of the times maestro Jeremy Jackman exhorted us to look after the semitones. There were plenty of other musical elements to look after as well, of course: timing, rhythm, articulation, dynamics, balance and diction, especially bearing in mind that the programme dictated getting ourContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Mass Tango in Husum and the kindness of strangers

If people sing together, it’s good for them. If people enjoy the hospitality of strangers, it’s great for body, soul and mutual understanding. Imagine how doubly beneficial it was, therefore, to be welcomed into the home of a fellow singer during my choir’s recent visit to make music with our German counterparts, the Theodor StormsContinue ReadingContinue Reading


Just like my own offspring, the ducklings were late arrivals. And they’ve also now flown the nest. Or waddled, rather. Having calculated, with the help of my RSPB guide, that their hatching date should be 3rd May, we were relieved to return on the 1st from a week in Yorkshire to find that all wasContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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