Music Last night's Prom 29 given by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain conducted by Mark Elder was one of, if not the best of the series and one of the few occasion when I've wished I was in the Royal Albert Hall to be a witness. Luckily, friend of the blog Ian Jones did manage to attend and has written this brilliant guest blog post which provides some of the flavour of what it was like:

I've been going to Prom concerts on and off for almost two decades now, but this one was unlike anything I'd heard before.

Some of it was to do with the relationship between the audience and the performers. A lot of friends, family and supporters of the National Youth Orchestra were in, and you could sense there was a great deal of pride in the air. Before the concert even started people in the audience were shouting out individual musicians' names and cheering them on. The place was packed, which helped. It meant the atmosphere was extraordinarily electric.

But what made this concert into one of the finest I've heard in my life was the performance itself. The main work, Shostakovich's 7th Symphony, is one of my favourites by my favourite composer, so I guess I was already pre-disposed to it being a worthwhile evening. However the playing of the NYO was incredible. It was just such an extraordinarily emotional performance; you could see and feel every single one of the players going for it. They were all between the ages of 13 and 19, which made their collective efforts even more staggering.

I was just blown away, frankly. The symphony itself is an emotionally draining adventure (being inspired by the German invasion of the USSR in 1941 and its subsequent stalling at the city of Leningrad; Shostakovich wrote it in the city itself, while it was under siege for a massive 880 days). But to hear it performed this way - the clatter, the poignancy, the control, the effort - was almost too much to take.

At the end the audience went on clapping and clapping. The explosion of applause and goodwill was heartfelt and very moving. I also saw some of the orchestra hugging and congratulating each other as we began to file out, which was really touching.

I can imagine how, if I'd have been watching them, say, 20 years younger than I am now, I would have come away instantly inspired to pick up and learn how to play the first musical instrument I could find. It was that sort of transformative magic that was at work in the Albert Hall all evening.

As it was the camarederie and the shared thrill in performance reminded me more than ever of what I lost when, for a number of reasons, I gave up music as my main vocation and went off to university do something entirely different.

A stunning night with bittersweet associations and one I shall remember for a very long time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more, I was at this prom too