October 6 A Day Out in Manchester

IMG_5807When I looked through the window this morning everything looked fuzzy. I realised that the windows were covered in condensation, something I’d forgotten existed after living with double glazing for the last 12 years! The thermometer outside registered a chilly 42F as I set off for the station to catch the train to Manchester. On the canal the boats were spewing smoke from their furnaces, but I have to admit that it looked very IMG_5810picturesque. The new Stoller Hall, the recital hall at Chetham’s School of Music is directly across the road from Victoria station. The hall was filled with  far more students than members of the public. Some of the students couldn’t have been more than 8 years old so it was asking a lot of them to sit still for the hour’s recital and then a two hour masterclass but they seemed very used to this sort of thing. I remember one of my classmates at Bolton School, a vocalist called Freda Farnworth,  leaving when she was about 13 to go to Chetham’s. Sir Humphrey Chetham (10 July 1580 – 1653) was an English merchant, responsible for the creation of Chetham’s Hospital and Chetham’s Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.  In 1628 he bought Turton Tower which Sarah and I had visited in June.

Steinway artist Simon Callaghan began with Scriabin and IMG_5825Rachmaninov before launching into Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard the original piano version of this work. I’m far more familiar with Ravel’s orchestrated version and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s version. (Keith Emerson, by the way, was a native of Todmorden where I’d spent the previous morning at the market). Simon’s performance was magical! He made sounds on the piano that I’d never heard before – amazing! In the masterclass that followed four students from year 12 and 13 performed Russian pieces as part of this festival marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution. The final student , Elias Ackerley, played Rachmaninov’s Sonata #2 – unbelievable. Within an hour of the final note I was sitting in the White Lion in Hebden Bridge where I bumped into Nicola and friends for the first time since I took residence.



  1. Wobbley Bob


  2. Paul Ackerley

    Hi Heather, just read your blog for 6th Oct Elias is my son! Interested by the places mentioned – Heptonstall/ Hebden bridge – beautiful places – as your photos capture so well!. Elias played Beethoven’s 4th as part of the Pennine Spring Festival in May in the Heptonstall Church. If you’re interested, the link is :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJU24apY8yw


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