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London London

So I was in London last night at the Barbican. My brother, niece and myself had booked tickets to Kyrill Gerstein play Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano Concerto.

It's always a major treat for me to go up to London because I live in the middle of a nature reserve on a cliff in Sussex, and so the bright lights, bustle, and incredible human intensity of the capital city, always blows my mind.

I had booked tickets right at the front of the auditorium. That's not normally what I do. My grandmother (who was a music teacher, and the only grandparent I had growing up) always advised us to sit in the middle of the auditorium towards the back. That way you got the full spread of the sound from the orchestra. Good life lesson. However, in this instance, we had tickets right in the front row and was so close to the orchestra – particularly the strings, and then the soloist, that we could actually hear the conductor's shirt moving as she conducted. It was a very visceral and actually wonderful experience.

The Rachmaninoff is such an incredible piece of music, and because we were so close to the Piano – it was actually a bit deafening – I was aware of just how loud a concert pianist has to play to be heard in a big space so by the time that Kyrill got to the mind-blowing closing bars, there was a physical compulsion to leap up to our feet and cheer, because the music is so adrenalised.

Spending the night with my lovely niece and her boyfriend in their very glamorous London Apartment was also a treat. As was mooching around Spittlefields market in the cold almost snowy weather today.

I sat in the churchyard at St Luke's in front of a very tender Mulberry tree. It's easy to be sucked into the madness and energy and Pell-mell of London. So I always try and carve out 30 minutes of practice.

I'm always struck by how London seems to make concrete everybody's desires. All the shops, or the beautiful architecture, all the possibilities of consumption. It's very difficult to resist because the whole city is built on that. So sometimes floating through the very instrumental and goal-orientated energy of the city with no goals, and no particular agenda can feel quite magical.

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4 comentários

Anne Kingston
Anne Kingston
02 de dez. de 2023

Sounds wonderful, feeling the full power of instrument and player. I always booked front row tickets for the ballet as I love to hear the squeak of ballet shoes on the floor and see the orchestra's twitches and shifting, always makes it real for me. How lovely to find those quiet places within cities, they are jewels.


Your writing is so descriptive, you seem to have a good balance with the Rachmaninov and then the Mulberry tree….thank you for sharing


This sounds excellent.


Gill Jewell
Gill Jewell
01 de dez. de 2023

That sounds like an extra ordinary time & thank you for sharing. I am on my balcony near Australia’s Parliament House ( ACT) after a long week, -now listening to rain, ducks quaking from the lake and thinking how wonderful quiet meditative spaces are!

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