An hour of Houria
A private evening concert to a select audience - it was an invitation from a mezzo soprano I met at the Pitshanger Manor Gallery. My mother and I had barely finished baking the banana-coconut bread when we set off on foot. I didn't want to be late for the 8 pm concert.
The softly lit candles and cushions on the rugs reminded me so much of the Arabic teahouses in Granada Houria, the singer and artist, had deliberately set the mood for her evening programme.
She introduced each piece and sang against the beautiful accompaniment of the English guitarist Keith on the Arab lute. Each song was a love song, sung in Arabic. When I closed my eyes, the music took me back to that magical evening in Granada, after visiting Alhambra. The only thing missing was the incense.
Houria's voice carried the exotic melodies far into the conservatory where the wine and bread were waiting. When she sang the "flower song", the lutist joined in the chorus. It was an enchanting meditation detailing each individual flower, but actually representing each individual soul. When the programme ended, we asked them to sing that one as an encore.
As an audience in a home concert, I was a newbie. But it was nice to relax and enjoy someone else's hard work and talent. Soon it will be my turn again - as organiser, caterer, performer, and clean up crew.
16 July 2002 Tuesday
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