The boys explore the amphitheatre at the ancient city of Kourion
One of the things we can occasionally claim for members of New College Choir is a chance to spend Michaelmas halfterm not sweeping up the leaves at home, but making music in the sunshine, enjoying the ocean and culture of a Mediterranean island, and forgetting the Autumnal wind and rain. And so it was with us at the end of October when we set sail for Cyprus: Monday through to Friday hardly a cloud, temperatures settled comfortably in the mid 20s, the sea warm, the people friendly, and the food excellent. To this I must add the fine qualities of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra with whom we had a project to perform Haydn's Creation (in Limassol and Nicosia). I had (for a Brit) unheard-of-hours of rehearsal with the orchestra. They were pleased to have this time, since it was for them a new work. Apart from the music-making, we greatly appreciated our visit to Kourion and the extraordinary treasures of the Nicosia Archealogical Museum. The Island of Cyprus possesses a richness and depth of history that makes Britain look like a parvenue. Part of this history has now torn the Island in two. Turkey's entry into the EU might be a resolution, but Turkey's enthusiasm for such a move must be dampened by European sovereign debt: it wouldn't make that much sense to buy into a project which meant bailing out several other countries, including of course Greece. We sang The Creation in English, making the point that the first edition (1800) of the work was bilingual, and that Haydn's intention was to have it sung in the local language, having conceived the work in England and written it in Austria. We didn't contemplate a Greek version - and English is well understood, from the time of the British colonization, and now the Americanization of the world. We were able still to admire the old British pillar boxes (marked GR), now in yellow, and drive on the left side of the road. It was curious to feel so much at home, and yet be a stone's throw from the Middle East.