Tuesday, November 22, 2016

concerts in two iconic locales

I was admiring the large, famous, and cathedral-like King's College chapel in Cambridge - the informational leaflet says the roof is 80 feet high, but it looks taller than that - when I noticed the sign listing the musical program for that evening's Evensong service. The college singers would be performing Bruckner's Locus iste as the introit. Locus iste is my favorite motet of all time, so I decided to go.

Not the first time I'd attended a Christian religious service, but the first time I'd attended an Anglican one in a medieval edifice. The chorus (two colleges' worth, combined), about 50 strong, were excellent, and the acoustics were reverberant. We guests sat in the stalls, facing inward from the two sides, at the lower end of the church; the chorus sat likewise in the middle, with their conductor standing in the aisle between them; and the ministers were up at the top somewhere, where we couldn't see them but could hear them.

Earlier, in London, on a lark I went to one of several performances of a "Classical Spectacular" program at the Royal Albert Hall, a building I'd never been inside before, though I've seen plenty of videos of concerts there. It's an enormous Victorian circular-shaped monument with something of a football-arena vibe to it. What the acoustics are like I've no idea, as everything was under tinny amplification, even the Royal Philharmonic, a normally respectable orchestra which formed the bulk of the musicians. Some quieter pieces, like "Clair de lune" and "The Lark Ascending", were perhaps poorly chosen for the festive atmosphere, which seemed intended to re-create The Last Night of the Proms in November. The most interesting part of it was the odd feeling one gets as a foreigner sitting among Brits being wildly patriotic over "Land of Hope and Glory", Parry's "Jerusalem", and "Rule, Britannia" with a baritone, clad in the British equivalent of an Uncle Sam coat, doing the hard-part verses from Thomas Arne's original. Does being a flag-waving Brit today indicate that one is pro-Brexit? I'm not sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment