Posted by Sid Smith on Jun 14, 2006 - This post is archived and may no longer be relevant

Thanks to OldWimburnian for this review of Robert’s soundscape in Salisbury





Earlier today I attended the Salisbury Cathedral Soundscapes.

I live just on the southern outskirts of Salisbury so it was a quick walk in to the Cathedral filled with anticipation. The last Soundscapes I attended was G3 at Bournemouth 2 years ago where my enjoyment had been compromised by a section of the audience!


Following on from a previous review I was looking out for the assembling middle-aged bearded men. I found it interesting that the, albeit small, audience seemed quite varied. The female lady person gender was well represented (at least 2 daughters with fathers), and there was a good age range as well. 


There is no ban on flash photography in the Cathedral, but it seemed to me that much of the flash was tourists taking pictures of the building rather than of the musician, although I did have my eyes closed for much of the concert. So hopefully it wasn’t too much of a problem for the performer.


The ‘recital’ if that’s the right word, was in 2 parts, with two pieces in the first half and one in the second. In the brief interlude Robert approached the audience, welcomed us, explained the link between the spiritual location and music as a spiritual experience. He also thanked those who had travelled far as well as those who had travelled not so far. Was this purely a reference to miles travelled or was there an allusion to time and familiarity with the performer’s music?


And so to the music. I am not a musician so can only tell you of my emotional reaction.

The music filled the space and filled me. There were several goosebump moments for me, particularly during the second piece, when for some reason Shostakovich sprang to my mind. There were chimes, I could have sworn there was a choir and the sound seemed to soak into the stone and come from the stone. The time flew by for me and it was over all to soon with the sound of fading bells.


And so after about 35 minutes back into reality. After a walk round the Cathedral I left through the refectory, where I saw Robert having his lunch (I left him to it, but my mind was saying "thank you"!)


On the way home as I was crossing the Avon by Ayleswade Bridge I passed two girls walking in the opposite direction, in precisely the same spot that I had passed them when I walked in! It struck me as an significant coincidence after such an extraordinary experience.


The other thing I found interesting was the experience of listening to live music during the day. In most instances we attend concerts in the evening, go home and sleep. Having the opportunity to absorb and retain the experience during the day-to-day events of the rest of the day seemed quite surreal but also satisfying.