I have Prommed!
Yes, though I have lived in and around London my whole life I have never been to the Proms before now, and this year I decided that this was something that needed to be rectified. So after work on Friday I hauled myself over to the Royal Albert Hall and got in the day ticket queue (for I intended to Prom proper).
The Prom in question was number 28, an evening that consisted of the Magnus Lindberg clarinet concerto followed by Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. Neither piece I knew beforehand, but both were amazing in their way. The Lindberg was performed by Kari Kriikku and was technically amazing. He made the clarinet make noises I had no idea it could make. It was clearly a superb display of musicianship and yet it was difficult to connect with beyond this.
The Rachmaninov, on the other hand, was very accessible. This was big sweeping stuff, almost cinematic in its emotional uppy-downiness. I was totally caught up in the music, and left reeling by the power of the piece. I was less impressed by the Royal Albert Hall. Having never ventured inside this great domed building before now, I was surprised to find, once you ventured through the doors and into the arena at the centre of the hall itself, that it felt like a kind of period Wembley Arena – equally cavernous and surprisingly cold - though my disappointment was alleviated somewhat when I spied the War of the Worlds type saucer thingys that hung from the ceiling as acoustic buffers. They were quite something to behold.
And the people! My fellow Prommers. Well, they were something too. One couple lay on the floor, barefoot and ram-rod straight, with their eyes closed. Another man lay curled nearby like a sleeping child, while an immaculately dressed man beside me was almost vibrating with pleasure through the whole of the Rachmaninov piece. The experience wouldn’t have been half of what it was without them.