Earlier this year my friend Betty told me about her trip to The Monastery in Manchester. I had never heard of it but as soon as I read on the website :
“Manchester’s magnificent Monastery is Pugin’s architectural masterpiece. It sits alongside the Taj Mahal and the ancient ruins of Pompeii as having been listed in the 100 most endangered sites in the world, with a rich heritage that should never be lost.“
I knew I must visit and who I would ask to come with me. So, Ann and I decided on a date – the Monastery is only open on the afternoons of certain Sundays and Mondays – Sunday 12th July. On checking the website I found that Gorton Monastery would be closed for a ticketed event that day.
This event sounded pretty good so we bought tickets and combined our visit with a morning at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House which I had visited before.
The July concert was a Summer Proms performance by the Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Spanish conductor Juan Ortuño. There was also a guest appearance by mezzo-soprano Sophie Radley. The concert included typical “proms” music: Vaughan-Williams’ ‘English Folk Song Suite’ and Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations plus selections of songs from operas and Arne’s ‘Rule, Britannia’, Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1’ and Parry’s ‘Jerusalem’. There was some fun audience participation in the latter three pieces.
Fast-forward to November when an email notice arrived in my Inbox telling me about the Gorton Philharmonic Christmas Concert at The Monastery. A quick call and we booked and last Sunday found us yet again in the magnificent surroundings of Pugin’s masterpiece enjoying a truly Christmassy atmosphere of music and singing in which there was much audience participation – every other piece was a well-known Christmas carol for us all to sing. A perfect start to the Christmas season.
I wonder whether I’ll get to one of their concerts again next year. I hope so!