A City of Symphonies: BBC Orchestra at the Barbican

One of the courses that I am taking here in London is all about the history of the symphonies. Going with that, we have the opportunity to go to six different orchestra concerts during our time here. Our first concert was the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner and performed at the Barbican Center on January 7.

They performed Janáček’s Jealousy followed by Smetana’s Má vlast: Vltava; Šárka, then Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 featuring soloist Tasmin Little. That ended the first half of the concert and it was followed by a twenty minute interval. The music was incredible, especially Tasmin Little on the violin. There was two clarinet players that I spent most of my time watching. There was a couple of clarinet solos as well that were mesmerizing. The most amazing thing about the concert was probably how together all of the strings were throughout the entire fifty minutes of music. Despite how great the orchestra was I felt my eyelids closing and jerked my head up multiple times after beginning to fall asleep. If my professor asks I was just fully embracing the music without the visual distractions…

The second half was even better than the first and I was actually able to stay awake for the entire thing. The first song was the UK Premiere of Peter Eötvös’s The Gliding of the Eagle in the Skies. It was amazing that we were able to see a symphony so highly regarded that they could preform the UK Premiere of this piece. The piece also featured two harps, so I was thinking of Jackie throughout the whole piece. In between that piece and the final piece, Janáček’s Taras Bulba, they were carrying one of the harp’s off the stage and they hit the top corner against the wall. I gasped and almost went onto the stage and hit the man carrying the harp- I spend too much time with Jackie. Janáček’s final piece was probably my favorite and I felt myself getting caught up in all of its magnificence.

When the concert finished everyone clapped for what seemed like forever, the conductor came back out onto the stage three times. We finally left the venue- a venue that seemed less concave then the ones at home in Philadelphia. It was a great experience for my first professional concert in London- a city all about music.


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