In Piccadilly in the West end of London
there sits a church called St James and most Mondays they hold free lunchtime
concerts. I went yesterday and marveled at the coming together of so many
The church itself was built under the direction of one of England’s most celebrated architects Sir Christopher Wren, who also built St Paul’s Cathedral. It was built in 1684 in the Renaissance Baroque style, using classical proportions and motifs, the interior unlike the older gothic is open and uncluttered anticipating the style of the enlightenment. Adorning the altar is the most wonderful, exuberant carving of fruit and flowers by the greatest name in woodcarving Grinling Gibbons.
There was a grand piano in the transept, in front of the pews, a beautiful, no expense spared piano, a black piano with a burr walnut interior. The pianist, a man at the height of the mastery of his instrument, having played at the Albert Hall publicly at the tender age of ten. He communicated his art with unerring confidence and feeling, playing the music composed by perhaps the greatest of all European musical talents, JS Bach and then followed by preludes and fugues written by Clara Schuman and then Robert Schuman’s Fantasy in C.
How sublime this amalgam! It was not made by decree of any god nor chance but by pulling together these pinnacles of artistic achievement of architecture, woodcarving, piano making, musical composition and the artistry of the performer. This little slice of heaven was made by human endeavour and will outlast those grubby dreams of religious cults and their false promises.
It is only experiences like this which could give substance to the dreamer’s lies of a perfect heaven. I’ll settle for the reality now and forego the dream.