Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, June 15, 2008


....to Neil Mantle on the award of an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Neil formed and conducts Scottish Sinfonia, an orchestra I used to play with (though not for 18 years now). Indeed with my heavy involvement in Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra, a body performing similar repertoire in the same venue with many of the same players, these days I view SS as a direct competitor. Still, competition is healthy, and Neil has been known to come and swell the ESO horn section when we needed large numbers, so no hard feelings on that score.

Neil has had a central place in Edinburgh's musical life since long before I arrived here in 1986. These days he also conducts the Edinburgh Bach Choir, which I must confess I've never heard, though I hear only good things of them.

I was at a rehearsal today (not ESO), and mentioned the news, figuring that as most people are less obsessive scanners of the listings than I am they probably wouldn't know. The first reaction, from a very well-known Edinburgh musician, was "Was it for services to grumpiness?" OK, Mr M can be a little acerbic from time to time, and even back in my day he had perfected the Conductor's Death Stare. (That I still live speaks only of his shoddy targetting in a large string section.) It has also been said that the Edinburgh music scene can be divided into those he has p***ed off and those he hasn't got round to yet. I must in fairness say that the same VWKEM immediately said that Neil's MBE was very well-deserved because of all he'd done for music in Edinburgh, an opinion generally taken up even by some who definitely aren't still waiting for Neil to get round to them.....

So: well done, Neil: a well-deserved tribute to all the work you've put in over many years to bring your musical vision to Edinburgh. Just don't give Her Majesty the Death Stare: being to blame for King Charles III would be a career low.


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