BBC Proms Diary 2018: Proms at … Roundhouse

I wrote my angry words about PRs, credibility of blogs and the need to receive some kind of recompense for my work on the way to today’s afternoon Prom at the Roundhouse. That it’s been read as many times as it has makes me think it’s resonated. Good. I hope some of the traffic has come from Switzerland.

So I headed to my first Prom this season feeling a sense of anger, relief, and excitement. A programme of twentieth-century stuff played by the Sinfonietta with George Benjamin at the helm.

More and more I’m looking to the unusual and unorthodox in search of visceral experiences. When something is unknown and unorthodox there is a closer connection with my emotions.

All of the music today had a strangely tactile quality to it. Three dimensional too. Gripping. A new five minute work by Hannah Kendall was absorbing. The second half of Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrection mortuorom was blistering bordering on the ear-splitting. The textures are musical escapism, guaranteed to trigger the imagination. Compelling, gripping and terrifying. There aren’t many works that push me to the limits of my decibel tolerance, but this is one of them. Even the tubular bell player had his fingers in his ears at one point.

This was also an opportunity to catch up with long-standing acquaintances. A reaffirming experience. Sometimes when I push back on the everyday exploitation that pervades the entertainment industry, I end up questioning whether I’m really entitled to complain.

When I end up having conversations that take me back to my roots, I’m reminded that I do know my stuff and that it’s perfectly acceptable to push back on stuff. Messiaen’s uncompromising love of sound and texture helps in that regard. And I’m wondering whether Messiaen might be my new best pal this Proms season.

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