Two go to a concert

A rare evening out and a real treat, too. This was part of the Lakes Summer Music Festival, which normally takes place every year but which was cancelled thanks to the virus last year.

This year the organisers bust a gut to get as many events and concerts back on, subject to increased Covid security measures, and last night we’d booked to see an Eastern European band called Paprika perform in Ambleside parish church.

And it was great. The venue, a typical Victorian gothic church with soaring arches and a high altar lit up purple for the evening, was a super setting. And the music was quite unexpected. We’d assumed it would be ‘world music’, perhaps with an Eastern European flavour, but Paprika are actually Balkan (four Serbians and a Hungarian in the line-up we saw last night) and the music definitely reflected that.

We heard everything from old Rumanian dances to a Serbian rumba, plus tunes with a distinct Jazz flavour and even one or two pieces that wouldn’t have been out of place at a Russian Jewish wedding. All of it was lively and all skillfully played on an unusual combination of guitar, bass guitar, two accordions and a violin. The band members also took turns to compere, announcing the various pieces and giving some fascinating snippets of the history of music in their countries. Apparently the Balkans have long been a meeting place between east and west, with influences from the Ottoman Empire, Jewish traditions and the Romany culture to name but a few.

The end result is a fascinating mix and made for an entertaining night out. The only slight downside was having to sit in face-masks for nearly two hours, in a very stuffy atmosphere since the organisers had closed all the doors and windows. To be honest, though, after so very long without live music that was a small price to pay, and I found myself getting quite emotional at the return of something we love so much.

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