King’s Cross, the 67-acre development in the heart of London and PRS for Music Foundation, have joined forces to select a musician in residence for the neighbourhood, for twelve months.
It was the Elgar symphony in the second half I’d really come for. The opening theme remains both enigmatic and somehow the most potent piece of melodic writing Elgar ever penned. It is arresting. Captivating. It will always remain, as Tom Service said a few years ago live on BBC Four, “proper Elgar”.
The slow movement – the third – transported me. This was the moment the BBC Philharmonic created something miraculous and much-needed. If magical moments are characterised by people stopping in their tracks and collectively holding their breath, the third movement adagio was it.
I closed my eyes. Tears rolled down my face. It wasn’t all to do with the music, of course. Some of it was enabled by the lager I’d consumed earlier in the evening. Regardless of who or what ultimately takes the credit, it was an incredibly special moment. There was a release.
My mind wanders a lot on the train. It takes a lot to focus to on a performance whilst travelling on public transport.
What I end up thinking about is the tyranny of knowledge in the classical music world. On the one hand, the industry I feel most at home in is also the industry which I suspect would laugh at my apparent inability to recall basic facts about compositional style, composer’s dates, harmonic progressions, and star’s names. I’ve certainly found myself in conversations with contemporaries and associates and discovered how unable I feel I am to spit out detail on command.