When you take a journalling approach to
On the one hand, the lack of actual writing about classical music might at first seem like evidence of a lack of
Being part of the classical music world
That podcasting work – Donohoe, Cottis and Howard last week, plus a recording in front of an audience last night at the Barbican – has rooted me back in the classical music world like I was back in 1997. Gratifyingly, I don’t feel like an observer looking in. At least, not all the time.
Part of that is down to self-confidence. And that’s partly fuelled by having to constantly listen back to yourself and what others are saying. The process is more immediate when you’re listening back to audio (or video), compared to reading over
But it’s also down to buildings.
Here’s the unexpected joy I’ve managed to identify just these past seven days. The thing we overlook. The thing marketers forget.
It is possible to imagine you’re experience a classical music or operatic experience without actually sitting in the auditorium and watching or listening.
This isn’t a poor me story. It’s not a rant. But the reality is: I can’t get to as many concerts as a supposed classical music buff would like to. Other things get in the way. Budgets demand alternative closer-to-home activities.
Take this past Saturday.
Going but not participating
After a long walk from Lewisham to Canary
We drank rosé. We reminisced. We talked about
Basically, we just sat there in the Royal Opera House, sort-of-adjacent to the auditorium and enjoyed each others company. You know, like people who go to pubs where there’s a theatre on the top floor do. Going to but not necessarily participating in proceedings. There’s no shame in that, is there?
It’s quite nice really
I don’t see what the carping about the Royal Opera House’s strategy opening up of its social spaces is about other than a thinly veiled attacked on perceived elitism. People want to have a dig. Complaining about the price of a cup of tea seemed like an easy win.
What I saw was something different – opera-goers, shoppers and tourists converged on the top floor bar to natter, read and look over the London skyline. True, I didn’t buy the wine at our table. But the opportunity to ‘drop in’ on a venue in this way does much to make a cultural space feel like its for you, regardless of whether you’re there with a ticket or not.
The National Theatre has long made its public spaces open to the public during the day, so too the Royal Festival Hall (a condition, I understood, of receiving Arts Council Funding). Before I went self-employed, these buildings were only places I went to with a ticket. Now I go there to meet people. I like that.
And yesterday, I
These venues – the Barbican, the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre, and even St Johns Smiths Square – are my present-day cathedrals.
Last night, at the Barbican Members Event, Alison Balsom said a similar thing about her relationship with the City of London estate.
She and I had already competed on stage (I was presenting the 19/20 season launch event) about our earliest Barbican experience – mine 30 years when I saw the National Youth Orchestra with Edward Downes, hers 3 years before that when she saw Hakan Hardenberger.
Since then Alison has studied at the next door Guildhall School, performed on the Barbican stage and the recently opened Milton Court on Silk Street.
The Barbican differs from all of those other venues I mentioned because of its grandiose space. The joy of such public venues is their
The reality is that I can’t, unlike the man I met yesterday who I learned spent the equivalent of my monthly outgoings on an extensive range of concerts in the Southbank’s 19/20 season, spend a great deal of money on tickets.
As urgent as the live experience is, sometimes just being present in a venue’s public space’s is all I can spare.
And that’s OK. From time to time I will venture into