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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

MH2SKI Blog

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When music meets the mountains

Posted on
July 1, 2013

Music making doesn't come to a complete stop once we're in the mountains and in the summer, the mountains, or at least many friends from the mountains, come to listen to some great music.

The English language is one of the most vibrant and constantly changing of all the languages in the world. New words are entering the dictionary all the time and we're constantly searching for new ways to express ourselves. I'd like to propose that we all try to come to a consensus on finding a new word for someone who pays you for a service but is at the same time a great friend. I find the word "client" sounds just too mercenary to describe the people I ski with each winter. Many of my "clients" have become close friends and one of the great joys of teaching skiing has been the huge cross-section of interesting people from totally different walks of life that I have met over the years. They have opened my eyes to subjects I may never have learnt anything about otherwise.

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                         Peter Harvey (bass soloist) and Jean Paterson (violin) enjoying the winter sun in Méribel.                                    

One of the great joys for me in encountering new people through skiing and getting to know them has been in being able to communicate my passion for music. I feel that of all the arts, music is the one that intimidates people the most. While many people wouldn't hesitate to go to an art gallery or to see a Shakespeare play at the theatre, they feel that classical music is elitist and an arcane interest. One of my greatest pleasures over the years when I have been teaching skiing has been in introducing my clients and my colleagues in ski resorts to the world of classical music. I have had clients come to concerts in venues as far apart as the Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Others have come along to rehearsals and recordings. Some years ago, six of my lovely Dutch lady clients made the trip from Holland to see a performance of Berlioz's opera The Trojans at the Chatelet in Paris and only last week five of my clients came to a recording session of some Bach cantatas in London. 

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                           Gil tackles the legendary off-piste run from the top of La Saulire to Brides Les Bains

Another way that my world of music and the mountains has coincided has been with the formation of the Méribel Choir. This choir was formed last year by my friend and pupil Gil Sharpe. Gil is a remarkable woman of formidable energy. A professional musician herself; she was the first women to get a position as a violinist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Gil has been doing complete winter seasons for the past three years. The choir has been growing steadily in numbers and the members are bursting with enthusiasm for new musical experiences. This past weekend, Gil and four of the girls made the journey (two from London and two from Méribel) to Versailles to hear a perfomance of the music of Bach in which I was playing in the Chapelle Royale. On the other side of the coin, many of my colleagues from my music world have come to Méribel to enjoy the greatest ski area in the world.

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                      Sir John Eliot Gardiner with the Méribel connection in the Chapelle Royale, Versailles

Finally, I seem to have cornered the market in playing for ski friends' weddings. Over this past couple of years I have played at the weddings of two young ladies who I first met skiing, Anne Waddington and Penny Samworth. I always find I get more nervous playing at a wedding than for anything else: give me Carnegie Hall anyday! This weekend it was Penny's turn, a beautiful wedding in the heart of the Cotswolds. The only downside....she'd set her heart on the slow movement of Albinoni's concerto in D minor during the signing of the register, one of the most fiendishly high and difficult things i've ever played.

   

Penny and Hugh leave the church under a honour-guard of skis

                                      Penny and Hugh leave the church under a honour-guard of skis

I hope that over the coming years i'll be able to introduce even more people to the joys of great music. If you're reading this and don't know where to start, just begin with Beethoven. For me he comes right in the middle of music history; from his music you can work forwards to contempory music and backwards to the Baroque and Renaissance. Before Beethoven composers were servants, either working for the church or a wealthy patron. He was the first composer to assert his own independence and promote his own concerts, writing music that pleased himself. Once when asked by a sneering member of the aristocracy whether the "Van Beethoven" in his name denoted that he was a landowner, Beethoven replied "no, i'm not a landowner, i'm a brain-owner." 

Would love some suggestions for an alternative word for client.

Even though we are in the middle of the summer mh2ski is active on Facebook and Twitter, so please feel free to 'like' and 'follow' us by clicking on the icons above. Likewise please leave a comment below, it's always lovely to hear from people including those suggestions of alternative words. Michael.

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