The Hospital of St Cross & Almshouse of Noble Poverty outside Winchester
Image: Adrian Harvey
On a recent afternoon in Portland, David wandered round the old library, looking at the stone benches carved with the names of George Eliot and Jane Austen and various other English familiars. Then he went inside to find his pew and listen to Handel's Messiah surrounded by children and babies. They had been taken by their parents to hear the Baroque Orchestra and Cappella Romana perform under director Robert Ainsley, and they were an attentive and enthusiastic audience.
Ainsley began his musical career at the age of eleven, studying piano and violin at Durham School and earning an organ scholarship to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he was graduated with a degree in mathematics. He then leapt to the Metropolitan Opera's young artist program and then from New York to Portland. He is a spectacular talker, explaining what we were going to hear with such gusto that we were all swept into the music, beginning with the sinfonia and the first aria and concluding with the Hallelujah Chorus.
In his willingness to travel far from home, this young conductor resembles many Brits, including David himself.
But there is something about home that draws a person home, and at no time do I feel this more deeply than at Christmas. David is drawn back to England, where he lives within walking distance of St Cross. Robert, I think, makes music his home.
Wherever you are, I hope you feel folded in love, at home.