The world of country house opera is something I know very little about, and so when invited to a concert at Nevill Holt, I only dimly grasped that it was a place and not someone's name. In fact it's an extremely spacious estate near Market Harborough whose stable block has been quite beautifully converted into an opera theatre. (The original brick walls, over which a modern, technical roof has been suspended, can perhaps also be dimly grasped in my snap.)
The occasion was a concert by the BBC Singers - a reduced number, still needing to social distance on the NHO stage. What an extreme joy - quite moving really - to see my dear former colleagues, whom I'd last seen at the end of 2019. Nicholas Chalmers, who is artistic director here, conducted a charming programme to celebrate the summer solstice, somehow squeezing in several of my George Herbert settings, not especially summery.
Neither was the weather, with dark skies and squally winds. I was reminded of a visit to Aldeburgh when, under my concert dress, I'd had to wear all the clothes I'd packed including my pyjamas. But as this was the first post-lockdown performance with live audience for both the BBC Singers and Nevill Holt, no-one's spirits were dented. In fact an especially supportive audience was there to cheer us on.