The International Language
The past few months have been a whirlwind of travel, concerts, recording and teaching. Throughout this period I’ve travelled over 40000 miles and had experiences that I feel incredibly lucky to have had. I’ve also been lucky enough to come into contact with a group of people who have contributed through their own presence in order to make these experiences all the more special - thank you all. I’ve travelled in a small boat on a misty day in Halong Bay, Vietnam. I’ve sat and relaxed with a beer in the sunshine near Sydney Opera House ahead of a performance of Madama Butterfly by Opera Australia, and I’ve wandered around Hong Kong on a busy Sunday morning taking in the energy of that fascinating city. Here is an account of some of these experiences and a collection of photographs that show what have been the most wonderful times, people and places.
In the final two weeks of February I was fortunate enough to perform a series of concerts aboard the luxurious Seabourn Sojourn on a portion of her world voyage between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Saigon) and Hong Kong. We visited Da Nang and Halong Bay en route to Hong Kong, and it was fascinating to experience a culture that is so acutely different to ours in the UK.
Our visit to Halong Bay was magical, and this collection of over 2000 islands rising out of the sea is a true sight to behold. Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, and legend claims that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains. It is not hard to imagine such an event occurring here, and it is impossible not be inspired by this place. I certainly came away with a feeling of awe for this most original of landscapes.
Following my time in the Far East, I then travelled back to England for 6 days of teaching and concerts before heading Down Under at the beginning March!
I flew out of London Heathrow on the evening of Monday 9th March, and about 27 hours later landed in Sydney. This was a very long journey and physically exhausting, but it was worth every second the first time that I laid eyes on Circular Quay. I vividly remember the metro train coming round the bend into Circular Quay station and seeing the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge coming into view for the first time - it was a magical experience and one that I am certain I will never forget. I joined the Queen Mary 2 on 12th March for a series of concert performances on her voyage around New Zealand, and was humbled by the spectacular scenery and vivid landscape that New Zealand has to offer.
On the voyage we visited Picton, Auckland and Bay of Islands, before returning to Sydney at the end of March. I spent a few days in Sydney having disembarked from the Queen Mary 2 and was taken aback by the positive atmosphere of the city, the warmth of its inhabitants and the overall vibrancy of the place. It’s safe to say that I was pained to leave Sydney, and was really very tempted to ‘miss’ my return flight to London.
However, I knew that I could not as I had a UK Tour beginning a few weeks later, and I was really excited to get back and finalise preparations for these concerts. That said; I have already set about making plans for an Australian tour in the near future so that I can return to that vibrant country!
As mentioned from the outset, these past months have been a whirlwind of activity, and at times I have had very little opportunity to sit still and just ‘be’. It is priceless to have the chance now to sit and compose these reflections on my journeys, and to share them with you all. I am truly humbled to have been presented with the opportunity to see these wonderful places, meet so many colourful people and to experience this world. What fills me with an overriding sense of positivity is that this has all been made possible through playing the classical guitar and committing to uncountable hours of practice and work. For those of you who share my passion for music, never lose sight of how you can communicate internationally with this language and how, if you stay true to your goals, the world will come to you.