An Outing for The London Gay Symphony Orchestra

The London Gay Orchestra

Daniel Bush took a bow (actually two bows, the conductor Simon Bowler practically ordered him to take the second one) looking laudably bashful and modest after the World Premiere of his Rhapsody for Orchestra.

If one were a ‘proper’ music critic (especially a London-based one) one would probably bitch at this point that he had much to be modest about – but I found the experience of listening to his music intensely pleasurable. And interesting: the ghost of Debussy hovered over parts of the score.

It “was inspired” by the Emperorconcerto, and Daniel Bush showed that he is a genuine composer by avoiding what could be called, without disrespect, the ‘big bow-wow’ element in Beethoven’s work. The Rhapsody is nearly as quiet as a Webern piece. But it meets the audience more than half-way, being less rarefied than Webern.

Having mentioned Beethoven and Webern implies that Daniel Bush may have a great future – I am not in a position to say – certainly this particular item is well worth listening to more than once. Maybe the London Gay Symphony Orchestra might consider making a CD of thiSeand other bits of new music to which they have given a first outing?It is also worth wondering why ‘real’ criticSeand reviewers were not at this concert – is the word ‘gay’ the turn-off? It certainly can’t be the competence of this group of professional musicians. The rest of the concert consisted of Britten’s Simple Symphony extremely well-played (this may sound like ‘damning with faint praise’ – but it is a quite difficult thing to carry off – the jaunty bits were fine and the Sentimental Saraband was genuinely poetic. (Richard) Strauss’s Serenade for Windswas quite beautiful (and rather shorter than I anticipated, the last time I heard a piece for winds by Strauss, in the Octogon in King’s Hall, Balmoral, Belfast, it ‘went on forever’).The ‘big’ piece was Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony (the one with the big, hammer-like chords at the end), I felt the conductor, Simon Bowler, was happier with the poetic elements in the structure than with the dramatic finale. That is not a major problem for a musician and I would not like to over-emphasise this, the interpretation was beautifully conceived.

This event took place in

St John’s Church,

Waterloo Road

(just by the bridge and the railway / tube / bus station. It is also a matter of minutes from the South Bank ‘complex’ – so presumably the professional journalists did not give the place a miss because it is inaccessible.

St John’s is probably Anglo-Catholic – there is a huge crucifix in the grounds – but the interior is of Presbyterian plainness, and has a lovely acoustic.

My next visit to St John’s will be to hear the Southbank Sinfonia (a group made up of young musicians, in essentially a training orchestra) it’ll be interesting to see if any reviewers are able to find the place.

The London Gay Symphony Orchestra lives at: and has a Charity Number: 1063981.

If you felt like giving the band a big bag of money they probably would be quite delighted.

Sponsorships of individual players or sections (no, you do not get to take them home) can be investigated on:

You can also contact the Orchestra Manager (Pete Reynolds) on:

My credentials for writing a music review consist of a love of music of fifty year’s standing, a pair of (rather large) ears, and an ability to do joined-up writing.

Dee Flatt

The Farewell Symphony

The Farewell Symphony

Auth: Edmund White

Pub: Penguin

This is a rather difficult review. The author claims to have had sex with over a thousand men. My worry is – how did he remember all the details so clearly?

Starting in the 1960Seand coming up to the present day, action takes place in New York, Rome and Paris. Sometimes the author had three different men in a week. Now and again he falls in love and the alliance lasts a few months.

Then AIDs cam along, and one friend after another died. He is now HIV positive. The author writes well. He wrote six books before one was accepted. Two that have been published are ‘A Boys Own Story’ and ‘The Beautiful Room is Empty’, both worth reading.

He has been a teacher of writing in Columbia.

I did get a bit tired of one tumble after another, but I enjoyed the book.