Members' Memories: Andrew & Anne Hemming

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For some visitors a trip to Glyndebourne is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But for many more that first trip ignites something deep inside – an emotional tie that has its source in the music, the singing and the place. As part of our Member Memories series we spoke to Andrew and Anne Hemming about their first discovery of Glyndebourne.

Andrew and Anne Discovered Glyndebourne back in the early 90s when the company Andrew worked for offered them last-minute tickets at 12 noon for a performance that afternoon. They were unable to attend as in those pre-mobile phone days Andrew couldn’t get hold of Anne, but Glyndebourne was now on their radar and they were interested in attending, as Andrew explains: ‘We had no idea how to go about getting Glyndebourne tickets, the impression of scarcity being perhaps even greater in those pre-Internet days. Anne wrote to Glyndebourne saying that we were novices but would love to try an opera, and received a very kind reply that made us feel very welcome.’

They were offered tickets to Peter Grimes. ‘This was in the final season of the old house and our seats were at the left-hand end of the third stalls row. We also booked to eat at the Nether Wallop restaurant. The first act was captivating and we still remember filing out of the auditorium and wondering where everyone had disappeared to – the concept of the long interval had not sunk in. Staff directed us up the hill and we were, again, welcomed at the restaurant. In fact, in hindsight, we have felt very welcomed for 22 years!’

‘The old house closed for the next season and we were keen to revisit the new one. We got tickets to see Peter Grimes again. Perhaps this repetition cemented the experience in our minds but we realised that this was a special place and somewhere quite unique in what it provides. We knew that we wanted to continue and that we wanted to come more than once a year but, with a young family, the cost of making multiple annual visits was daunting. I don’t want to make it sound like we denied our children life experiences in our headlong pursuit of our opera habit but we decided that those long-haul trips would have to wait until we’d got the bug out of our system. “Let’s stay at home and visit Glyndebourne instead” just seemed a natural solution. Of course, careers progressed and finances improved and holidays returned. Other pastimes have come and gone but Glyndebourne has always continued.’


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