Getting back into concert goingNews
Last night’s Philharmonia concert at the Royal Festival Hall was my first for 20 months. I was masked throughout, as were most of the audience.
The hall was sold out, thanks largely to the pulling power of soloist Hilary Hahn – see Alastair Macaulay’s review here.
The audience was predominantly under 40, ethnically diverse and intent on enjoyment. Apart from a minor disturbance in The Lark Ascending, the concentration in the hall was exemplary. The absorption of a new piece by Gabriella Smith was no different from the reception of more familiar items. Perhaps because it was a Sunday night, the financial sector was absent from the central seats and the atmosphere was appreciably lighter.
What caught my eye was how much the Philharmonia players were enjoying being back, sharing little nods and smiles and giving much of their art and themselves. Nobody expected the hall to sell out – it rarely does these days – and the sight of people hanging over balcony rails to hear and see more was universally uplifting.
This was concertgoing as it used to be, not just before Covid but before the onset of overplanning – when each concert was an event and it felt like a privilege to hear Brahms.