Saturday, 31 March 2012


I came to Sherrardswood School by a circuitous route. Born in Berlin 9 July 1922, Primary school, and a term or two of Secondary School, in Berlin. Emigrated, and arrived in London on 5 October 1933. Moved to Welwyn Garden City a few weeks later. Started school at Fretherne House Preparatory School, Church Road, next door to the Free Church, during the war home for pregnant mothers, then a cottage hospital where I had my tonsils out, later a pub and a restaurant. The area behind it was all unbuilt-on, and were our playing fields. The school closed after two terms, and my poor mother had to learn knitting, to put bands of the new light blue colour on my pullover, embarrassing for me when it showed the old colours, maroon and yellow,  inside... We were broke. Miss Wragg, founder of the school, and Mr Morton, co-head, arranged for me to sit a scholarship examination, which I passed, an actual impossibility, as I had only just started the new language! But they allowed my parents to pay a few quid a term, all we could afford. Of course it was the High School then: Mrs Annand invented the name Sherrardswood. I was at the school 1934 - 1942, when I took the School Certificate for the second time, in order to get Matriculation Exemption, which gave access to University – Mr Annand wanted me to do a language scholarship to Cambridge, German / French, but my parents were not in a position to let me take that route. Did evening classes – always by far the youngest pupil! – in Town and Country Planning, Higher Maths, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy.

Being interested in theatre, I started work at Welwyn Electrical laboratories, working out the maths of electrical resistors, which they baked in ovens, green enamel! How I landed there I do not know. My father was building gliders in Dunstable, was in partnership with a German emigre engineer, Herr Weil, and my parents moved to a hardly furnished house in Dunstable, near the London Gliding Club on the Downs, where  I went weekends on the then Hertford-Luton line, under the White Bridge. Stayed with the Franktons, Michael was a pupil of the school, then with the Bakers: My father had met the brilliant Bernard-Baker, cant remember his first name, at the club, where he had his own sailplane. The Bakers had a profound influence on my English. Bill, the wife, was MA Cantab, and introduced me to Fowler’s The King’s English. I’m devoted to R W Burchfield’s Fowler’s Modern English Usage! Baker, electronic brain behind Murphy Radio, introduced me to a job at the firm, where I worked in the drawing office, my not being able to draw a straight line! Amazingly I was put on a two-year training course, going right through every department of the firm, which didnt teach me a lot about radio or TV, but was a social study of the English class system and hierarchy! I wrote a letter to the Murphy News, criticising the fact that in ONE shop, workers were on overtime, in ANOTHER, they were on WAITING TIME, which meant that the firm was making a profit on both. After a summons to the Managing Director, Mr Stuart Burge, was it? - it’s a long time ago, 1944, I was duly sacked.

We were staying with the Herons, my mother and I – I cant tell you in how many lodgings I have lived in the Garden City - he of Cresta Silks, the fashion house, his son Patrick the famous painter. And sawing logs together in the winter, he helped me greatly to become a conscientious objector, which he viewed from a Christian standpoint. My analysis of the war led me to giving enormous responsibility for the rise of a Hitler to the the allies, exemplified by the disastrous and vengeful handling of Germany through the Treaty of Versailles. I registered as a conchie after my sacking by Murphy Radio, but my political basis for objecting to participation in the war was not recognised, and I landed in Walton Gaol in Liverpool. This in, now, my second year of doing social work all over the country, in homes for children and for old people, with the Friends’ Relief Service (FRS) and the International Voluntary Service for Peace (IVSP). Apt ‘Rehearsal’, for my two years with the Save the Children Fund, under the British Red Cross Commission, and UNRRA, back in my old country, a Berliner in civilian Red Cross khaki, 1946-1948. Did a German play with the locals in Schleswig Holstein! Doffed my British uniform, put on a German costume... German/English... Berliner Londoner...

At last I started with my original purpose, the theatre. Had fallen in love with it in Berlin as a nipper, White Horse Inn 1928. Emil and the Detecives. Now it was 1948. I was 26, a late start. Hitch hiked to Scotland and back, calling on various Repertory theatres  on the way. Was offered a job as ASM, the lowest form of theatrical life, Assistant Stage Manager, in the Alex in Birminham, the Alexandra Theatre. Then up to tour Scotland with the touring company of the Dundee Rep. Then got accepted in the Adelphi Guild Theatre Company, most of whose young actors had come straight from the Old Vic Theatre School, and I took over a part at no notice at all because somebody was ill. So I got my theatre training in the theatre! Not in a drama school. Though I taught at a number of drama schools later, the Rose Bruford, East 15 and, briefliest at RADA, where the interference of the new principal led to my resigning...

I was out of work Christmas 1950, and the editor of the Welwyn Time, Charles Dalton, rang me, and offered me a job as reporter on the paper, so I became a jounalistic factotum on the Welwyn Times, law reports, men’s fashion articles, story of a Dachshund in Old Welwyn with its rear undercarriage on wheels, recipes accidentally omitting an essential ingredient, and such. I must explain that pretty well everybody knew me in the Garden City. I participated in amateur drama; was a junior member of a Brains Trust; sat on the theatre sub-committee of the WGC Post War Committee, planning local facilities; was a member of the discussion group, the Ring. So Dalton knew I could spout, and must have guessed that I could also write... Importantly, he invited me to organise a Child Art Competition, involving 30 schools in the paper’s catchment area in Hertfordshire, and children from as young as 3 years to 18, having heard that I had learnt about the subject from my dear colleague in the SCF team Margaret Ridley, who used painting by children as therapy, big brushes, big movements, cheap newspaper, free choice of subject...

Dalton was furious when I gave notice after 2 years to go and live in Paris, and sacked me on the spot! We met in Soho years later, had a coffee at Cafe Valerie, and he told me I’d be a wealthy man if I’d stayed with him! Instead, I helped to start a famous Chelsea restaurant with friends, Au Pere de Nico, 1952, frequented by the Royal Court Theatre company in its heyday, Look Back In Anger and all that. And I did evening class work for the ILEA, the Inner London Education Authority, in speech and drama and improvisation, later in opera, after my Churchill Fellowship in Opera Production and Administration 1969.

As well as work on stage, in film and on TV, in London and on tour as actor, I directed plays at the Alex in Birmigham, where I’d also acted and asm’ed, and in Perth Rep, and various chamber operas and an operetta with London companies. I put on, under my own management, Brecht’s THE EXCEPTION AND THE RULE; Fassbinder’s PRE-PARADIES SORRY NOW; and, at the Jeannetta Cochrane Theatre, IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, the opera by Cimarosa.

I was channelled towards opera by gaining that travelling fellowship with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which took me to Berlin, Hamburg and other major German cities, and for a magical month of rehearsals and performances in Salzburg, and to beautiful beleagered Prague.

In 1975 I was appointed City Arts Administrator and Administrator, later Director, of the City of Portsmouth Arts Festival, and created the annual orchestral concert and recital seasons, Music in Portsmouth. And I brought the Young Vic and the touring company of the National Theatre and the D’Oyly Carte Savoy Opera Company to Portsmouth. I introduced Yehudi Menuhin into the City of Portsmouth’s project of an international music competition, and he became its Artistic Director and Chairman of the jury. I was co-founder of what became the City of Portsmouth International String Quartet Competition, which is now the Wigmore Hall London International String Quartet Competition.

Stray activities to round off the story: Personal manager to  performers and musical conductors. Adjudicator of amateur drama festivals, including the navy’s, two-years-running. Examiner of the Drama Board. Some 12 years  as film and television extra and photographic model – which is how I earned my first computer, on a photo shoot for Compac in 1995!

Travel must be mentioned. Annual summer and Christmas stays in the city of my birth, Berlin. Septembers in Mytilini. Intimacy with France, Italy and Switzerland. An amazing journey with friends in a vintage car all the way to Morocco. A luxury film invitation to Goa, where my friend Dinah Collin was costuming a Hollywood Film, and we toured beautiful Kerala by taxi with Mathew, who managed to keep us alive among Indian drivers. And by boat on the backwaters. A visit on opera business to Israel, and an insight into its disastrous relationship to its neighbours. A theatre tour in South Africa, and an insight into its then disastrous policy of Apartheid. Spent a fascinated fortnight in New York, where I slept extremely well with two Francis Bacon  paintings in the room, was glad to get to know them and him.

I twice acted as catalyst with Yehudi Menuhin. As I report above, I took the idea of the Portsmouth music competition TO him. And I took an idea of his of 25 years ago FROM him: Menuhin had wanted an opera house IN A CAVE, IN THE MOUNTAIN, IN GSTAAD, IN SWITZERLAND, for his annual music festival. The plan was never realised for lack of money. I heard about it indirectly in Berlin, when a friend of mine, then an architectural student, Wieka Muthesius, showed me her student project of a concert hall, in a cave, in the mountain, in Gstaad, in Switzerland: Her professor, Swiss architect Alfred Grazioli, later her husband, had kept the Menuhin idea alive, by giving the project to his students. I took this idea to a businessman friend of mine in Gstaad, Markus Kappeler, who some years later formed a committee, did a feasibility study, issued an architectural competition, appointed an architect, and started collecting sponsorship money and public support. I am very involved in the project, keeping a watching brief over it as an old pro,with a lifetime’s experience of stage and podium, and in my profound concern about five serious errors being made in the planning of the concert hall:

1) No orchstra pit is planned, although ballet will be performed on the stage.
2) There are no choir stalls planned, obviously needed for choral works. Such stalls could also be used as public seating, thus the audience surrounding the performers. And they should be hydraulically removed, like on the new stage of the Royal Festival Hall, to provide a clear area for performances on stage.
3) The exterior of the building, shaped somewhat like a mountain with a flat top, will be faced with tree trunks, a beautiful aesthetic solution. BUT THE BUILDING WILL HAVE NO WINDOWS! No windows for audience, for performers, for technicians, for visitors to the art galleries included in this complex building, nor for the travellers using the coach station situated below it.  No views of the snow capped mountains nor of the river valley.
4) There will be no restaurants. None for the audience, none for the artists, none for the technicians, none for the visitors, none for the travellers. This is in deference to the restaurants, cafes, and hotels nearby – who could of course apply for a licence to run them...
5) And there is no organ planned – a necessity for such an international performance venue. As I point out publicly, on my blog, and eslewhere: They are not planning a village hall. They are not planning a church hall. They are planning a concert and performance venue of world standard, which will also have to serve the needs of the Menuhin Festival.

Oh! Hear me! Oh! Hear me! Oh! Hear me!!!

In my quest for perfection in a scheme that I have been dreaming about now for 25 years, I went  last year to meet the architect, Rudi Ricciotti, in Bandol, on the French Riviera, and I went on to Gstaad, had a coffee with the editor of the local newspaper, Anzeiger von Saanen, Frank Müller-Brand, and I met Leonz Blunschi, President of the Menuhin Festival Gstaad. And I went to Bern to meet Kurt Aellen, the architect member of the project committee, and to Zuerich for a delightful interview with the Arts Editor, Chefredaktor, of the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, Markus Spillmann, who at first had been reluctant to see me, but shares my view of the mis-handling of the project.

I keep busy. And I celebrate my 90th birthday in my father’s sailing club on the lovely Wannsee lake in Berlin in July. Here I spent my wonderful childhood weekends, sailing, rowing, watching the regattas, and picnicking on board my father’s racing yacht, with my mother, with Adolf Hain, my father’s old friend and sailing partner, his wife Elisabeth and their son Peter, my childhood friend. My blog has the story of how Adolf Hain, became leader of the club in 1933, and how he threw out its Jewish members…

Peter Zander                                                                              31 March 2012

Friday, 16 March 2012


My summer visit to Berlin this year was a social whirr, and I came back pretty fagged: I think that was because it was emotionally so very highly charged, in that the complex and not very pretty past played such a dominant role. I was invited to attend the celebration of the laying of 11 Stolpersteine, those 4 inch square brass memorial plaques let into the pavement in front of the block of flats where Jewish Berliners were collected by the Gestapo for carting off to concentration camp and death. A woman I met at the celebration came up to me, and very diffidently enquired whether I, too, perhaps, had lost relatives for whom I wished to have such memorial plaques laid, and she is now doing remarkable research work for me, about dates and partners and their last voluntary addresses – Jews were collected and put together in ‘Jewish’ accommodation. My great uncle and aunt had loads of Jewish Berliners moved into their flat. And everybody was terrified when the doorbell went, in case it was the Gestapo, and some of their number were bidden to take their little suitcases and leave...  I have this from my great aunt, who told me in ’46 when I was in Berlin on leave from my Red Cross work. It is unpleasant to have to 
remember those times. My mother’s sister and her husband will get Stolpersteine. And my father’s sister and husband – I didn’t know that she had married. My grandfather’s sister and husband. And then there is my mother’s lifelong best friend, from school, Marianne 
Piorkowsky, her husband and her daughter Ursel, my age, a bit younger, came to birthday parties on the balcony of our flat in Haupstrasse, Friedenau, I have a photograph of her in the album, it just doesn’t bear thinking about. 1942.  70 years ago... Did one not grieve properly for them then???

And then I had been invited to be one of the 4 to propose the remarkable headmistress of the Loecknitz Grundschule, Christa Niclasen – see my earlier blog about that – the primary school headmistress, whose senior pupils had for 17 years built the wondrous memorial wall, each brick devoted to a Jewish citizens of the neighbourhood killed by the Nazis, researched, and annotated with name, date, and fate. I spoke to the two top classes about my turning from Berliner to Londoner, they call us Zeitzeugen, witnesses of the time. Christa Niclasen invited us 4 ‘proposers’ for coffee and cakes at a cafe in the district by the school, the Bayrische Viertel, and after that I had had my fill of the past, I needed music, and went straight over to the Deutsche Oper, booked me a ticket in the front of the stalls, and relished a superb production of Boheme.

I had to go back to Berlin a few weeks later to attend the official prize giving in the Berlin  City Hall, where Christa Niclasen was given an Obermayer Award for her inspiration of the memorial wall, which acknowledged the Jewish Berliners who had died. And there was a meeting in the school by the wall, too, with members of the Obermayer jury and Mr Obermayer, to honour the children for their work. 

Then I spent 4 days being interviewed by friends on camera about the knife edge of being both a Berliner and a Londer, how come! That was fun. We did most of it in a back room of the Bleibtreu cafe, a regular haunt round the corner from my pension. And I was continually invited, by old and new friends, and there was theatre, and lots of music, art, good Berlin food at the Treffpunkt Berlin, my favourite pub restaurant. So the Berlin of today came up trumps. I generally had three appointments a day... I spent ONE evening in my room in bed, reading, relaxing. But that terrible past... A cloud spreading a shadow over today...

Friday, 9 March 2012

Les Arts Gstaad

 Churchill Fellow

23 February 2012

Herrn Kurt Aellen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Kurt Aellen GmbH
Architekt EPFL SIA BSA
Merzenacker 27
CH-3006 Bern

Verehrter Kurt Aellen

Am Sonntag den 8ten Juli feiere ich meinen 90ten Geburtstag in meiner Heimatstadt Berlin, und dann auch an verschiedenen Orten in dem Lande in dem ich seit 79 Jahren lebe. Vielleicht ist es aus der Perspektive dieser vielen Jahre, der praegenden historischen Erlebnisse, und der verschiedenen Standpunkte von denen man das Leben sah, aus Paris, Kappstadt, Mytilini, Kerala, Israel, Madulein, London, dass ich es besonders wertvoll finde, unsere Harmonie, die wir in Bern kurz fanden, wiederherzustellen. Unser Treffen war mir ein Genuss, und es ist mir wesentlich zu versuchen, da wieder anzuknuepfen wo wir so hoffnungsvoll begannen.

Nun bin ich seit ueber einem viertel Jahrhundert mit diesem Konzept, Konzersaal im Berg in Gstaad, dass sich in Les Arts, Gstaad verwandelt hat, beschaeftigt, und es laesst mich nicht locker. Leider hat mich damals mein alter Freund Markus Kappeler in das Projekt nicht involvieren wollen, sodass er aus mir den passionierten Aussenseiter gemacht hat. Nicht dass ich, wenn es anders gekommen waere, den Mund gehalten haette, mit meinem tiefen Interesse, und meiner lebenslangen praktischen Erfahrung mit Buehne und Podium,  aber ich waere dadurch besser informiert gewesen, dadurch genauer mit meiner Kritik, und dadurch geschickter, dem gemeinen Ziel zuzustreben. Es ist die reine Ironie, dass wir hier duellieren, wo wir beide doch das Beste fuer das Projekt erzielen wollen.

Vielleicht koennte ich, gerade weil ich in einer gewissen Distanz zu dem Projekt stehe, ihm einen wesentlichen Beitrag leisten.

Mit freundlichen Gruessen


Peter Zander

London Soho

6 March 2012

Es ist 2 Wochen spaeter, und ich habe von Kurt Aellen keine Antwort erhalten. Er ist ueber mich veraergert, weil ich den Konzertsaal von Les Arts Gstaad auf meinem Blog, also oeffentlich, auf fuenf wesentlichen Punkten, kritisiert habe. Schon als Markus Kappeler mir die Plaene vor 2 Jahren zeigte, sagte ich ihm sofort, es waere kategorisch falsch einen Konzertsaal zu bauen ohne einen Orchestergraben, besonders wenn Auffuehrungen von Ballett auf der Buehne des Saals stattfinden sollen. Es handelt sich doch hier nicht um einen Dorfsaal, um einem Kirchensaal, sondern um einen Auffuehrungsort von Weltrang, der dem Menuhin Festival auch dienen soll.

Kurt Aellen sitzt auf dem Komite von Les Arts Gstaad, und beraet als Architekt seine Entscheidungen, die die Basis sind fuer die Plaene des Architekten des Projekts, Rudi Ricciotti. Kurt Aellen wollte nach London kommen, sich die Royal Festival Hall ansehen, weil ich ihm, als wir uns in Bern trafen, vorgeschlagen hatte, sich vertraut zu machen mit der gaenzlich neuen und flexiblen Buehne und Orchestergraben des Saals. Aber Kurt Aellen kam nicht. Ob der Konzertsaal wohl einen Orchestergraben bekommen wird? Die Antwort wird mir verheimlicht.

Und sind jetzt fuer den Konzertsaal Chorsitze vorgesehen, die vom Publikum benutzt werden koennen, wenn sie nicht fuer einen Chor benoetigt werden? Und wird man sie hydraulisch wegfahren koennen, wie in der Royal Festival Hall, um so eine saubere Flaeche zu gewinnen fuer Auffuehrungen auf der Buehne? Die Antwort wird mir verheimlicht.

Und wird der ganze Bau wirklich keine Fenster haben??? Als ehemaliger Schauspieler wuerde ich fuer Tageslicht plaedieren, fuer alle Aufenthaltsraeume der Kuenstler und Techniker, fuer die Garderoben, Chor und Orchesterraeume, fuer die Kantine. Und fuer die Zuschauerfoyers, restaurants, bars, besonders mit dieser herrlichen Aussicht auf Berg und Tal. Die Antwort wird mir verheimlicht.

Und ich habe erfahren, aus der Broschuere von Les Arts Gstaad No 2, August 2010, dass es entschieden wurde “auf ein permanentes Restaurant zu verzichten aus Ruecksicht auf die umliegenden Betriebe”. Ist es nicht sehr viel wesentlicher, Ruecksicht auf das Publikum, auf die Kuenstler, und auf die Techniker zu nehmen? Es erscheint mir als korrekter, die Interessen von Les Arts Gstaad zu vertreten, als die Interessen von den “umliegenden Betrieben”, die sich ja  an einer Lizenz im Bau beteiligen koennen. Ein Restaurant ist um so noetiger, als der Bau ja waerend des ganzen Tages und am Abend Publikum beherbergt. Und Essen und Trinken haben doch auch eine unglaublich wichtige gesellschaftliche Funktion. Ausserdem wuerde ein  Restaurant die Finanzen des Unternehmens unterstuetzen, eine wichtige Pointe. Es wuerde auch, zusammen mit der urspruenglich geplanten Terasse, das Publikum zum Besuch animieren. Hat man sich vielleicht doch mittlerweile fuer ein Restaurant entschieden? Die Antwort wird mir verheimlicht.

Besteht die Absicht, eine Orgel - wichtiger Bestandteil eines Konzertsaals von Weltrang – an der hinteren Wand der Buehne einzubauen? Sie erscheint nicht auf den Plaenen, die mir gezeigt wurden. Die Antwort wird mir verheimlicht.

Eine kurze Erklaerung...

Vor 25 Jahren zeigte mir Wieka Muthesius, damals Studentin von Professor Alfred Grazioli, in Berlin ihre Plaene fuer ein Projekt eines Konzertsaals in einer Hoehle im Berg, in Gstaad. Ich wusste damals nicht, dass das auf einer Idee basiert war von Yehudi Menuhin, der einen Plan hatte fuer ein Opernhaus im Berg, ein Plan der damals aus finanziellen Gruenden nicht realisiert werden konnte. Dieses dramatische Konzept machte einen tiefen Eindruck auf mich. Fuer meinen Begriff war das nicht nur ein Studentenprojekt: DAS MUSSTE GEBAUT WERDEN! Aber als ich, jedes mal wenn ich in Berlin war, Wieka and Freddy gefragt
habe, wie steht's mit dem Gstaad Projekt, hatte sich nichts geruehrt. So kam es, auf einem meiner vielen Besuche in Gstaad, als ich Gast bei meinen alten Freunden Markus und Marlis Kappeler war, dass ich Markus vorschlug, das Projekt vom Konzertsaal im Berg zu adoptieren, es zu realisieren. Und daraus entwickelte sich, entstand,  “Les Arts Gstaad”.

Und daher stammt mein passioniertes Interesse. Und mein Traum ist, dass das Projekt "Les Arts Gstaad" nicht nur schoen sein wird, sondern dass es auch in allen praktischen und menschlichen Bereichen hervoragend funktionieren wird, dass nicht irgendwelche Fehler mit eingebaut werden, dass nicht gute Gelegenheiten verpasst werden.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Letter published in the AJR Journal, organ of the Association of Jewish Refugees

Volume 12  No 3  March 2012

To explain: Letters and articles in the magazine often express the same view as Anthony  Grenville’s, presumably trying to make out that we are now all genuine Englishmen, born and bred,  have in fact become indigenous – an utter impossibility, and an absurdity to this Londoner Berliner, me



Anthony  Grenville, whose erudition and style I greatly admire, writes in his Double Exposure project in Vienna of “former victims of Nazi persecution”, as well as of “former refugees” and of interviews with “former Austrians”.

“Former Austrians” I can take: They are no doubt Austrians no longer. “Former Refugees” I personally find an absurd notion, as my experience of being a refugee is perhaps the most important psychological influence on me apart from birth itself; I’m a marked man. And “former victims of Nazi persecution”? IMPOSSIBLE.

Peter Zander, London W1

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mytilini Correspondence

Churchill Fellow

Costas Seretis
Restaurant Reef
Greece      PC  81 109.
00 30 22530 41488
Mobile: 00 30 697 9726323

Dear Costas

Thought in my bath this morning of the numerous people I have been telling about my two-centre luxury holiday in Mytilini in September! About my studio home near the harbour town, in Aklidiou, in Aklidi Studios, and my weekend home with you in Petra, that lovely resort, and right on the beach, with sun beds and sun shades, and where your mother keeps the sheets on the bed for me for the following weekend in the rooms-to-let above the restaurant! And where I have four different routes to travel between my ‘homes’ on my quadbike!!! Along the sea. Over the mountains. Through the fields. And where I get the best Greek food for lunch and dinner, and an English cooked breakfast! No wonder, I cooked very little this year in my studio! I compared the ease and calm of my holidays in Mytilini, with my strenuous, and detailed, planning at this moment, emails and texts flying, phones ringing, of my Christmas stay in Berlin, where I am in contact with about 30 lots of people, for meetings, concerts, theatre, opera, exhibitions, and for Berlin cuisine dinners, and where I am going to be interviewed on film! I am looking forward, now, to next summer in Mytilini, to recuperate from the strain of my London and Berlin city lives!!!

Cheers, Costas!

Love to your lovely mother, to your great father, and to beautiful Marietta!



Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Beauty versus Function  

I think two architectural principles are at loggerheads over the concert hall in the Les Arts Gstaad arts centre: and they are Beauty and Function. There is no doubt that the building  will be stunningly beautiful, inside and out. And the sound in the concert hall will no doubt be superb. So much for Beauty. By contrast, Function will be seriously impaired. There is going to be NO ORCHESTRA PIT for on-stage performances of ballet and opera concertante; there’s going to be NO CHORUS SEATING, needed for major  choral works in the classical repertoire; there’s going to be NO ORGAN, a Must in an international performance arts venue; there are going to be NO WINDOWS (!) for the artists’ dressing rooms, for the Green Room, or for the orchestral players’ and chorus rooms; and there are going to be NO RESTAURANTS for the concert public, for the performers, for the technicians, for the visitors to the exhibition rooms, or for the travellers using the coach station situated below the arts centre. Beauty wins hands down, but, alas, Function loses out.

When I went to Athens for the first time, in 1958, on the way to Lesbos, I was invited to a tour of the Parthenon, perhaps the most important architectural experience in my life. Then there I learnt, that great architecture combines beauty and function, that great architecture is sculpture, that serves purpose in every single one of its details.

8 November 2011


Wednesday, 2 November 2011


 I am not one that can get very enthusiastic about revenge or punishment. I think their shame is already ample punishment. That suffices. Now let them go on playing, and  serve us with their high talent, not waste it (I say 'us', but really leave myself entirely out of it, as cricket bores me to distraction - that thin outdoor clapping...) Let them be unpaid, let them serve on expenses only. And let them appear before their public in their shame, and let us, their public, practise that vital ingredient in human life, that is in such sadly short supply, forgiveness.