Pipes and English Tea

I went to a concert called “Just Pipes” presented by the Brott Music Festival 2012 at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church in Burlington, Ontario. It featured two local artists, Jan Overduin, organist and Matthew Jones, recorder soloist, and  the concert got its name from the musical instruments.

The Brott Music Festival, now running in its 25th year, is known for inviting very talented local artists to perform in local venues in Hamilton and Burlington. St. Christopher’s Anglican Church has hosted many of these concerts because of its beautiful pipe organ, and its ample seating.

Matthew Jones is a versatile musician. He is Music Director of the Timmins Symphony Orchestra. He teaches, records as well as maintains his career as a cellist and recorder soloist.

Jan Overuid is a multi-award winner and has appeared in many recital, radio broadcast and on television.

The first part of the  program consisted of four pieces of baroque music: Sammartini’s Concerto in F major, Handel’s Sonata No. 5 in F major, Telemann’s Concerto in C major and J.S. Bach’s Sonata in F major.

It was a delightful performance by both Jones and Overduin and they brought to life the baroque flavour in the beautiful church setting. Jones played the soprano recorder in the Sammatini, and the alto recorder in the other pieces. His tone was rich and he had superb control of the instrument. He even performed a fine balancing act by raising his knee and touched his thigh with the end of the recorder in the Telemann concerto–this was the stunt to get a high F#! Jones prepared the audience for this surprise when he introduced the pieces to us. He had a sense of humour, and  whatever was lacking in program notes for this concert was well compensated for by Jones’s oral presentation.

The organ is quite rightly described as “the orchestra in a box”. The variation of sounds it produced complemented the recorder playing. I was particularly impressed by the piece by Handel and the picturesque interpretation by both artists.

The audience was ushered to another hall during intermission and we were served afternoon tea.

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There was a selection of dainty fruit tarts, lemon squares, shortbread cookies and lemon poppy seed cake. The sandwich platter also had an interesting variety, including the cucumber sandwich which added authenticity to the afternoon tea menu. There were butter scones served with clotted cream and jam.

I wish to take issue with the program calling this High Tea. Except for the high table, this tea was anything but high tea, which should have consisted of savoury items such as Scotch egg, and even steak and kidney pie and served later in the day. I hope a true English would back me up on this, because on this side of the pond, North Americans think of “high” in terms of being “superior”, as in “high” German or “haute” couture. Well, English afternoon tea is served at low tables, strictly speaking. Calling what we had, the English afternoon tea, as High Tea does not give it clout; it is a misrepresentation.  I think that given the time our tea was served, and the menu, the program would have done better justice to the event by calling it Pipes and English Tea.

Now, let us not be carried away by our afternoon tea, because there was still the second part of the musical program to come. We were entertained while we were enjoying our tea by Jones and Overduin again. This time, the accompaniment was played on a keyboard.

The music was still baroque, except for the piece specially . composed for Jones entitled  Fantasia for Recorders. Jones played with different recorders: soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass, including playing with two recorders at the same time. He joked that he looked like a walrus. Above all, he demonstrated amazing dexterity when he switched recorders. Jones stole the show in this part of the performance. He was lively, almost athletic, in his playing. Regrettably, the keyboard could not keep up with him. It was also uncertain as to whether it was due to the acoustics of the room or to the limitations of the keyboard that the accompaniment sounded loud, even overpowering at times.

All in all, I had a very relaxing afternoon listening to baroque music and enjoying my English afternoon tea, that I refuse to call high tea.

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6 thoughts on “Pipes and English Tea

    1. Opalla Post author

      Hi PepperBento, Wikipedia’s write-up on Tea (meal) has a good summary. My English friends all agree that high tea refers in most part of England to a light meal eaten around 5-7 p.m., and afternoon tea is enjoyed earlier in the afternoon. By the way, I also love cream teas (scones, jam and clotted cream) in the Cornwall area. Where about in England are you from?

      Reply
      1. Janet Williams

        You were such a pain! Why didn’t you just eat……?

        Ok — I think I could back you up on High Tea. According to this marvellous, friendly, resourceful site rich in knowledge about the British culture for children, the definition of High Tea is:

        HIGH TEA (The traditional 6 o’clock tea) :
        The British working population did not have Afternoon Tea. They had a meal about midday, and a meal after work, between five and seven o’clock. This meal was called ‘high tea’ or just ‘tea’.

        (Today, most people refer to the evening meal as dinner or supper.)

        Traditionally eaten early evening, High tea was a substantial meal that combined delicious sweet foods, such as scones, cakes, buns or tea breads, with tempting savouries, such as cheese on toast, toasted crumpets, cold meats and pickles or poached eggs on toast. This meal is now often replaced with a supper due to people eating their main meal in the evenings rather than at midday.

        You can find out more details about Afternoon Tea on this site too.

        Source: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/food/tea.htm

        Keep calm and drink tea!

      2. Opalla Post author

        Good comment and useful site, Janet. I want to relax and enjoy my Afternoon Tea Fortnum & Mason style too, except that people on this side of the pond need to be educated. They think High Tea is posh, agh!

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