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‘My Cultural Life’ – Rosie Harvey

‘My Cultural Life’ – Rosie Harvey

Mr Mark Zacharias, Head of English at Stamford High School, has started our latest lockdown project  – ‘My Cultural Life’. Inspired by the Times newspaper, amongst others: the Schools present interviews from individuals across our Stamford community, considering their cultural interests, loves and shortcomings.

We hope that these interviews help you to find inspiration during the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in, and that you enjoy learning a little more about us here at Stamford!

View all of our entries here.

 

Rosie Harvey, Year 13, provides our next cultural interview:

The box set I’m hooked on…

Recently I’ve become obsessed with the Netflix series ‘Medici’ – the story of the rise to fame of the famous Italian Medici family in the 15th century. I have fallen in love with the Renaissance period, and although the series may not be entirely accurate, it is totally engaging and at least gives some insight to the greatness of the period that influenced so much of our culture today.

My favourite play…

This is dreadfully unoriginal, but ever since I first saw this performed at The Globe Theatre aged 7, Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has always had a special place in my heart. The (now, unfortunately, clichéd) love story is truly beautiful, even appealing to my Classical side through its parallel to the mythical tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe. My parents had taken me to Shakespeare performances ever since I was 2, but this one really stayed with me.

My favourite author or book…

I try to read a variety of books, but I have read a lot of Margaret Atwood lately and found that I really enjoy how diverse her writing is, especially her adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ in her book ‘Hag-Seed’, curiously set in a prison arts programme.

The book I’m reading…

I am currently reading Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’ – I was inspired after a trip to Egypt and the sudden realisation that I had never read any of her books. Christie was a favourite author of my grandfather, so reading this is also a nice reminder of him at the same time.

The book I couldn’t finish…

After being in the school production of ‘Les Misérables’, I was inspired to read a translation of Victor Hugo’s original tale. This was perhaps a bit too much of a stretch, as the writing and language was perhaps a little too heavy and advanced for a ten-year-old. I haven’t picked it up since.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read…

Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ – I studied book 3 at Latin Camp (!) but haven’t read any of the other books in detail, and this really limits my classical knowledge.

My favourite film…

I’ve already spoken about my love for ‘Romeo and Juliet’, but a recent discovery was the film ‘Letters to Juliet’. This is a story based on the true phenomenon of the secretaries of Juliet. These are ladies in Verona who volunteer their time to reply to the many letters about love sent to Juliet, consoling and giving advice to those who take the time to write. The film itself tends towards the romance of the protagonist, but I found the concept of the secretaries of Juliet so intriguing that I plan to go to Verona and volunteer once travel can resume.

My favourite piece of music…

My music taste is hugely varied, although I tend to favour classical music. Perhaps one of the pieces that relaxes me most is ‘Le Cantique de Jean Racine’ by Fauré – the clashes are beautiful, and the depth and complexity of the organ part is truly magnificent.

The lyric I wish I’d written…

The chorus in Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ is always good for a spiritual lift: ‘lights will guide you home / and ignite your bones / and I will try to fix you’. The tune is quite melancholy, but the sentiment does really remind you that no matter how bleak times appear, there is a light somewhere to bring you to where you need to be.

My guiltiest cultural pleasure…

I absolutely adore black-tie dinners. I was very fortunate to attend a few when I was growing up, usually going with my parents to military dinners. The formality of the events is what draws me to them. Even in lock-down, we try to have a formal dinner at home once a month, dressing up in some of the many outfits we as a family have collected over time. For me, there is a sort of escapism in these events.

If I could own one painting…

‘The Lament for Icarus’ by Herbert James Draper – the painting is so beautiful, really capturing the tragedy of the myth. Icarus’ wings are displayed dramatically as he lies dead on the ground and the nymphs surrounding him are so delicate in comparison to these drooping arcs of power.

The instrument I wish I’d learnt…

I always admired flautists and the gorgeous music they can create – the flute and its music are so different from the piano and string instruments I am more familiar with. I also think the organ would be a fun (if a little dramatic) instrument to play…

The music that cheers me up…

A little bit of jazz always brings me to a happier place. There’s something about the bouncing rhythm that can lighten any mood, especially when played on a traditional record player.

The place I feel happiest…

We used to have an apartment in Spain. About half an hour’s drive from the apartment, up in the mountains, there was a little restaurant nestled above a white village. You could sit up on the balcony terrace, looking over the hills, seeing the brightly coloured villages and the rest of civilisation far below. This incredible experience always began with a fresh plate of honey-drizzled aubergines. There are so many memories here.

I’m having a fantasy dinner party. I’ll invite these artists and authors…

This actually came up as a lunchtime discussion with friends just before isolation…. My personal guest-list would be Ella Fitzgerald, Angela Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, May (from Chaucer’s ‘The Merchant’s Tale’), Ferdinand (from John Webster’s ‘The Duchess of Malfi’), Cher (from ‘Clueless’), Blanche (from Tennessee William’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’) and Lucretius.

And I’ll put on this music…

This is a very eclectic set of guests – I think a little classical music, possibly Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’ would bridge the gap between some of the generations and add atmosphere to the drama in the room.

I wasted an evening…

Unfortunately planning a holiday to Romania, doomed not to happen due to the virus.

Underrated…

Most definitely the ability to speak more than one language fluently. It must be so incredible to flip between one language and another (possibly many more!), even to the extent of having dreams in those other languages.

 

Read all of our ‘My Cultural Life’ entries here. 

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