As a thank you to Wadham’s supporters, the evening of live music and poetry took place in lieu of the annual Benefactors' Garden Party which could not be held during the pandemic.
Thanking Wadham benefactors for their support, encouragement, counsel and friendship the Warden, Ken Macdonald QC, began the evening by sharing college news at the close of an "unusual" Trinity term.
The Adderbury Ensemble performed a programme which included Parry String Quartet No 1, 1st Movement, Allegro; Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No 1, 2nd Movement, Andante Cantabile; Haydn's String Quartet, 'The Joke', Finale Presto; and Bridge 3rd Idyll, Allegro con moto.
The music was interspersed by commentaries by Wadham Fellows Eric Clarke, Professorial Fellow and Heather Professor of Music at Oxford and Professor Philip Bullock, Fellow and Tutor in Russian.
“It is extremely exciting for me to be in the Holywell music room to hear some live music again for the first time in four months” commented Professor Clarke.
Dr Jane Griffiths, Wadham College Tutor for Undergraduates and Placito Fellow & Tutor in English read three poems during the evening, two written by Wadham alumni, The Magnetic Mountain (section 32) by Cecil Day Lewis, and The Forest by David Constantine. The poignant final poem of the evening, Isolation, was written by Jane during the pandemic lockdown.
Describing the Tchaikovsky movement, Professor Philip Bullock said: “It’s based on a Russian folk song and you might think it’s all to do with the lyrical countryside…it’s not. The Words are ‘Vanya sat on the couch and poured himself a tot of rum.’ In December 1876 its most famous listener was Leo Tolstoy, the novelist [….] Tchaikovsky wrote in his diary: ‘Perhaps I was never so flattered in my life, nor was my pride as a composer so stirred, as when Leo Tolstoy, sitting beside me, listened to the andante of my first quartet and dissolved into tears.’ This experience of listening to live music for the first time in months almost makes me want to dissolve in tears now.”
Alumni who live-streamed the event were encouraged to visit the College’s YouTube channel to see Wadham’s Head Gardener, Andrew Little, lead a tour of the College gardens. Watch the garden tour here.