When I was in Shanghai, of course I thought I needed to get out and about and see what the city had to offer. Now back in Edinburgh, which has been home now for longer than I have lived anywhere else (Co. Tyrone, Belfast, Leeds, Birmingham and London in that order, last and first the next longest), I have been enjoying it as always.
But of course, there are places I have never been to before and I inadvertently found one today. Now I think I will become an Edinburgh tourist. I took myself off to listen to another of the lunchtime concerts – St Cecilia’s Hall – John Kitchen on harpischord and Mark Bailey on cello playing Bach sonatas. In all the time I have lived in Edinburgh, I had never actually been to St. Cecilia’s Hall before and now I know it is home to a wonderful oval concert hall and also to an unbelievable collection of instruments, harps, lutes, guitars downstairs and harpsichords and spinets upstairs.
From a helpful leaflet I discovered the hall has a great history too, beginning in 1760’s as a concert hall, then owned by Baptists who sold it to Freemasons, after which it was a school for over 40 years before becoming the Excelsior Ballroom in 1933. The blurb says it was very popular during the war years (easy to believe this) but then declined until in 1959 was restored as a concert hall and then bought by the University of Edinburgh. I wish I had a picture of the oval hall and cupola above as imagining all the dancing while listening to the sonatas was a dream.
And, although often incensed about current monetary driven practices and the quantitative counting of the RAE (paper paper research assessment exercise) and the Drive for Excellence as though there would be such a thing if everything or everybody was excellent, there are some things which the University of Edinburgh does do very well indeed. The generosity of performers and establishment re the lunchtime concerts is one of them. The keeping of various galleries and museums all around the city is another.
So I have hopefully labelled this post number one as I intend to become an Edinburgh Tourist and see what else I can find.