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Baroque-ing good birthday surprise

Newbury musicians celebrate as lockdown eases

Trish Lee

trish lee


01635 886663

Baroque-ing good birthday surprise

John Heritage arrives to the Medlams playing Happy Birthday

BACK in April, local musician Fiona Bennett planned a special 60th birthday dinner for her husband, trumpeter and conductor John Heritage. Sadly, the lockdown began before his birthday so the surprise dinner was rearranged for their fifth wedding anniversary in July. This time, things were different and when they ‘popped in’ to Hollington to ‘collect an anniversary gift’ from their good friends Charles Medlam and Ingrid Seifert – renowned international musicians, in particular in the baroque world – John was greeted with a “wonderfully musical” rendition of Happy Birthday played by Charles on his cello and Ingrid on viola and a sumptuous feast in their beautiful garden.

They were joined by two other friends, Bal and Kamal Bahia, the Champagne glasses clinked and the evening was a huge success.

“Keeping the surprise for so long was very stressful,” says composer and pianist Fiona, “and whenever I opened my laptop, I was conscious that there were reams of emails from both Ingrid and Kamal so I had to cover my tracks very carefully.”

The weather was kind and the sextet sat outside in the candlelit garden until 11pm. John says he had no idea about the birthday celebrations and was bowled over by everyone’s kindness. He said: “It was the best surprise birthday party ever.”

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