Halifax: Shibden & Piece Halls

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Trips & Adventures – 28 April 2019

Stephen Kovacevich

American-born pianist Stephen Kovacevich moved to Britain to study with Dame Myra Hess and has since graced concert platforms across the world for over 50 years. He made his name with critically acclaimed recordings of Beethoven and Schubert with a special fascination for their late works.

As part of Bridgewater Hall’s International Concert Series, we heard:

J.S. Bach Partita No.4 in D, BWV 828;
Beethoven Sonata No.31 in A-flat, Op.110; and
Schubert Sonata No.21 in B-flat, D.960.

His recital of Beethoven’s Op.110 was fluently expressive, yet also intellectually compact, while Schubert’s last sonata in B-flat was grandly expansive and lyrical, as well as searchingly profound.

To be thorough, Stephen Kovacevich was born in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, to a Croatian father and an American mother. When his mother remarried, his name was changed to Stephen Bishop, the name under which he performed in his early career. He later discovered that he was often being confused with the singer and guitarist Stephen Bishop. To avoid the confusion, he began performing as Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich and later simply as Stephen Kovacevich.

Trips & Adventures – 2 May 2019

Eleven of us ventured to Halifax to mark the occasion of Lesbian Visibility Day, by visiting Shibden Hall (Anne Lister’s house).

Called “Fred” by her lover and “Gentleman Jack” by Halifax residents, Anne Lister (1791 – 1840) is often called “the first modern lesbian” for her clear self-knowledge and openly lesbian lifestyle.

Throughout her life, she kept diaries that chronicled the details of her daily life, including her lesbian relationships. Her diaries contain more than 4 million words and about a sixth of them — those concerning the intimate details of her romantic and sexual relationships — were written in code. The code, derived from a combination of algebra and Ancient Greek, was deciphered in the 1930s.

However, on our visit we cracked the code! The photographs cannot tell a lie:

After visiting the Hall and gardens we made our way back to Halifax for a meal at the Square Chapel Arts Centre. The food was reasonable (except that the vegetarian meal was served with bacon) but I have never met a ruder salesperson. I ordered a black Americano coffee. When he was making the drink I enquired “Did I say, no milk?”, and he replied “Yes, you’ve already told me twice” (which was not true). When he served my pizza, he plonked it in the middle of the table and said “Make your mind up who wants it”. Perhaps he wanted to finish his shift, but his tone came across as very rude and nasty.

After the meal we had a wander around the Piece Hall, an 18th century cloth hall which now houses shops, bars and restaurants. It’s a spectacular building and lots of pictures can be seen here.

4 thoughts on “Halifax: Shibden & Piece Halls

  1. Sounds like a great concert and a wonderful day out to Shibden Hall….the clues were good! And your waiter sounds like he worked at Fawlty Towers…I remember one with his skills from about 40 years ago, he banged down the starters on the table and said “looks like the chef is having an off day”. Meals as bad as that can be gems to dine out on for years, hugs Pauline xxx

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  2. Our of our historian friends in Halifax has been lucky to have a sneak preview of the first Gentleman Jack episode, and he says that it looks quite brilliant.

    There is to be an Anne Lister-themed weekend on 12th – 14th July and he is hoping to give a presentation about ‘The Young Anne Lister’ covering her little-known first twenty years, at the Minster, probably on the evening of 12th July. But check nearer the time as it is not finally settled.

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