Tuesday 8 August 2006


I am rather aware that there are significant gaps in my summer concert going (what summer concert going you might ask?). Some how the Proms that I really want to hear are on days when we're unavailable or out of town on holiday, though we usually manage one or two. This year, I'm afraid that there was not very much on offer which really tempted me. The other problem with Proms is that unless you promenade (my knees won't cope with all the standing nowadays) or sit in the good seats, you can often come away feeling that you would have heard the concert better on the radio. But, of course, if you listen on the radio then other things get in the way. You start doing the dishes , the phone goes or your attention wanders (mind does all the time). Listening at home, you simply lack the enforced concentration that a concert environment brings, and I need this sort of confinement to force me to concentrate on the music at hand. So it comes back to money; picking the concerts that you feel are really worth paying top price for.

Perhaps its an age thing; now I'm in my 50's I feel less inclined to put up with discomfort and mid-week after a day at work I don't often feel so inclined to go to a concert. But its also a feature of the Albert Hall itself.

The thing that makes the concerts so accessible, the Hall's very size, means that it is one size fits none, really. Or is that me being a pessimist? Still, the Hall's owners have done a wonderful job of sprucing it up in the last few years. It makes the concert going experience a please (apart from the scarcity of mens loos).

Of course, the Proms is not the only thing going on at the moment. There are also visits from 2 great Russian opera companies. Now here I music exhibit one of my many achilles heels, I have a rather take-it-or-leave-it attitude to much Russian opera. I have a soft spot for the odd Rimsky-Korsakov extravaganza and Boris Goudonov is an opera that I have loved in the past. But the repertoire as a whole does not make me shout, Oh, Goody!. And, of course, the prices are greater than for our own opera companies.

So we come to money again, do I want to pay the prices necessary to see these pieces or not? This year the answer has been not, I'm afraid.

But there is one final issue. I rather like having a holiday from the regular round. The month of August is one where I have no regular evening choir rehearsals, no Sunday morning commitments at church choir and if there is little concert or opera going then it gives us a bit of space. Not a lot, we're away twice this summer and we are going to the Edington Festival for a week. But that is definitely outside the regular round of things.

So I'll happily browse the reviews of Proms and various visiting companies, but I rarely feel a twinge of regret. There'll always be another time!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:19 pm

    I have found the heat to be a big problem this year at the Albert Hall. And although there is plenty that is quite attractive, there's very little that is unmissable. I have only really managed to stick it out for Juan Diego Florez and Steve Reich, and part from having to miss the King's Consort M. Haydn and Mozart Prom, I'm happy to stick to radio and Tv, except for one coming up on Bank Holiday Sunday.

    I know a lot of people who find the Albert Hall troublesome for getting home from. Obviously that depends where you live, but it's not especially handy for any of the terminus stations, and it's a bit of stroll down to S. Ken Tube.


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