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Stratford Observer 21st October 2004 (Reporter: Tom Wright)

Poetry Evening with Author

Looking more like your friendly local butcher than the international literary star that he is, Louis de Bernières amused a small but enthusiastic audience with a programme of Renaissance and Medieval poetry and music at the Shakespeare Centre on Friday night. The best selling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin was joined by three female professional flautists known as the Antonius Flute Trio and dressed head-to-toe in black.

De Bernières had his own mandolin and the versatility of the group was amply demonstrated by the use of other instruments including keyboard, guitar and percussion. The beauty of the recital was that you never quite knew what was coming next. One minute we were listening to a musical piece attributed to Henry VIII and the next to an erotic poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt. Even the great Michelangelo was found a spot in proceedings with the romantically entitled Poem 92.

Throughout the evening a delightful balance was achieved between the professional musicians and the enthusiastic amateur. The mandolin is a tricky instrument to play, particularly at speed, because the fingerboard is so small and the strings are doubled up, but if Mr de Bernières made the odd mistake it didn't matter. Throughout it all the ladies kept an affectionate eye (and ear) on him. The life of a novelist must largely be a solitary one, and Louis de Bernières clearly relishes the opportunity to perform with friends and interact with an audience. I suspect that this is what he really enjoys doing the most.

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