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SUMMER WITH BAX: A fresh take on reality.

By Dilys Gater with Paul Gater.



Anecdotes Publishing

ISBN 1-898670-09-9


Now this is something a little different.

How you react to this slim volume will naturally be coloured by your attitude to after-death communication. Dilys Gater is a well-known medium. My first acquaintance with her writings came through a book called, ‘A Psychic’s Casebook’, pretty much a day-by-day account of what a medium does and, indeed, has to cope with.

Arnold Bax, of course, died in 1953. Gater’s method of communication, we are told almost immediately, is via trance - a state wherein the medium puts his/her consciousness to one side, giving the visitor freedom to communicate directly to living people. Trance is certainly something one needs to see in action – put like this is sounds pretty unbelievable. But I have seen it – at the College of Psychic Studies in South Kensington – and it was an impressive event. Gater is not a direct voice medium, in that the voice of Bax did not come though her. In the taped sessions her voice remained her own. Yet she calls upon clairvoyance - describing images Bax gives her - presumably before she starts channeling fully – comments like ‘he’s showing me …’, as Bax drops an image into her mind, appear regularly.

The volume is interspersed with atmospheric black-and-white photographs, plus several inspirational poems (including the mystic poets William Blake and Edward Fitzgerald). Paul Gater contributes several chapters that give background for the reader: ‘A brief introduction to Bax’; ‘Bax and Women’; ‘Bax – The Hidden Man’ and a final 3½ page, ‘A Short Musical Appreciation of Sir Arnold Bax’, which includes some discographical reference.

But it is the conversations that provide most interest. Bax comes across as a man of intelligence, warmth and possessed of a real urge to communicate. There is a Buddhist-like emphasis on the now, sometimes - describing a nature scene, he says, ‘It’s enough that it’s there. The being of it is all that matters’. He speaks candidly of his depression, and of his perceived need to hide it – ‘On the surface I was a … "Laugh a minute" … There are parts of one’s life or one’s existence … where no-one sees and you don’t want them to see’. He examines his fascination with the sea. Of his own music, he says, ‘I was a craftsman. I was not an inspirational, elevated conveyor of abstruse philosophy through musical notes’. Candid, certainly.

There are inevitable questions, prime amongst which must surely be what is music life ‘on the other side’? The answer – ‘All music is the same. Don’t ask me about the Music of the Spheres, because you might as well be asking me about the Dance of the Comedians’. Describing his own musical activities when he was alive, he says that, ‘If you don’t reach the boundaries or you don’t try to cross them, you never get that sense of great power that is kept in check’. How true. Personally, I can’t hear this too much in his music - I’m pretty much weaned on Boulez and Stockhausen when it comes to twentieth-century music - but the sense of adventure is certainly there for all to hear, the sense of an individual searching for his own path.

Bax’s views on critics are pretty dismissive (pp.70-72). Perhaps the comment, ‘only the ones who play … the true musicians … are there on the edge’. Fair play, but someone has to do it! He’s not too keen on conductors, either: ‘They are blind sometimes, leading the sightless’.

But perhaps the best quote comes from Bax on the subject of his own passing over. ‘The trouble with dying is that you become dismissed as dead’. Indeed. And it is good that Bax has been granted the right of reply.

This is not the first book of its sort, but it seems to be the first by a major composer. If the concept appeals, readers may be interested in Paul Beards’ ‘The Barbanell Report’ (ISBN 0946259232) in which Maurice Barbanell reveals his impressions and experiences post-mortem via medium Marie Cherrie.

Fascinating, indeed addictive, reading.

Colin Clarke



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