Sunday Concerts At Wigmore Hall

October 23, 2016 — 53 Comments

Outside Wigmore Hall

I have had a really fantastic day today which included watching an afternoon performance at the Wigmore Hall, London. It all started yesterday when I saw a tweet bringing to my attention two concerts that were being hosted today at Wigmore Hall for the grand sum of £5.00 each. Now, I did not need to win a ticket, or queue up for ages, or hope that someone would return their own ticket on the day of the performance to get in for this discounted price. I just had to shy away from being a lady and tell them my age 🙂  All because I was under 35, Wigmore Hall have this fantastic program that offers anyone under 35 access to these amazing concerts for only £5.00 so as a Northerner I just had to take advantage of the bargain. For those wonderful people who do not fit into this bracket, I would still urge you to go as the music making in such a beautiful venue was just divine! I am a very lucky lady indeed.

Now, enough about the “good deal,” the concert itself was mesmerising. Toby Spence, tenor (high male voice), and Christopher Glynn, piano, superbly performed the London premiere of ‘The Fair Maid of the Mill.’; a beautiful English translation by Jeremy Sams of the the German cycle ‘Die schöne Müllerin’ by Franz Schubert. This concert was part of the ‘Schubert in English’ Concerts being held at Wigmore Hall. This is an interesting concept for me personally after doing so much research in the last year of my undergraduate study on whether translation works as well in Song as it does in Opera.


Toby Spence

The program included an interesting note from the translator in keeping with some of my own research: ‘Opera translation is permissible because Opera is what a story sounds like, whereas the Lied is what poetry sounds like.‘ (2016, Jeremy Sams). However, he continues to discuss ‘that perhaps it is more ubiquitous, because a scene in an opera is actually a story, and similarly so is a song, and it occurred to me that the ingredients of poetry – time , landscape, developing thoughts – are maybe a story also.’ (2016, JeremynSams).  So I sat at the beginning of the recital prepared to possibly be persuaded that it could take me to the magical world Schubert had intended for his audience.

And indeed it did! The flow between each piece was seamless, encouraging you to follow the life of the character and how the love that affected his life, grew, then blossomed and (spoiler alert) sadly wilted. The sung English translation helped me to realise some significant symbols, such as the colour green, the water of the mill stream and the obstacle of the hunter. I realised how important these ideas were to the crux of the story and how each affects the Miller, this was backed up by the sweetly interpreted piano playing of Christopher Glynn which highlighted the changes that Schubert created to always keep you on the edge of your seat.  Toby Spence, also added to the mood by deciding to wear a slightly informal characterised outfit, of what I imagined to be a slightly fleeced blue jacket with a shirt, and pale beige trousers. It set the mood and housed the character’s soul that he created so wonderfully. It was truly a performance to learn from whilst I am crafting my own interpretation of  Song.


Christopher Glynn

I particularly enjoyed how he performed the Interlude, relaxed away from the piano leaning against the wall of the intimate stage area, with his glass of water in his hands to replenish himself between singing verses. It worked wonderfully as it allowed the audience to relax and briefly visit another world before returning back to the Miller’s story.

As I reflect on this performance, I think that the subject of translation will be one that I will be researching, agreeing and disagreeing with my whole life, which in itself excites me, as I realise it is so individual, and I hope that I will be able to try it out in my own performances. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to perform in a concert series dedicated to the art of translating poetry.


What A Concert !!

I have just come out of my second concert of the day at Wigmore Hall and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton beautifully accompanied by James Baillieu. I wish I had more time to tell you about it but I have to get home 🙂 Her performance transported me to a place of dreams especially as she concluded with “Never Never Land”

53 responses to Sunday Concerts At Wigmore Hall


    Em domingo, 23 de outubro de 2016, Charlotte Hoather escreveu:Fortunately you have enjoyed Sunday Concerts ar Wigmore Hall. A very nice week-days for you and everyone you consider most.

    > Charlotte Hoather posted: ” I have had a really fantastic day today which > included watching an afternoon performance at the Wigmore Hall, London. It > all started yesterday when I saw a tweet bringing to my attention two > concerts that were being hosted today at Wigmore Hall for the ” >


    As I remember from Indiana University’s presentations of opera in English, I was struck each time by the immediacy of the story. Gone was the artificial sense of something higher than everyday life — these were everyday stories. I’d say it was far more honest. It was a matter of going straight to the theater, and admittedly far more direct than the “high art” of artifice.
    What you describe with the lieder has far more to do with translation itself — apart from any music. As a poet, I find many of the texts presumptuous, contrived, stilted. Is there any way of getting to what inspired the composer, back then? Yet when the two words and music move together, the experience can be magical.
    Such transcendental moments need to be marked and treasured.


      I agree after watching the afternoon concert that when it’s in your home tongue it’s more accessible and immediate and it was interesting to watch from the audience without having to read a program notes, however, my favourite part of Jamie Barton’s concert this evening was her Sibelius section and I didn’t understand a word but it was so moving that I want to investigate and learn more which is what I love about this art form. Thanks Jnana.
      Best wishes


      With regard to the poetry when it works I agree these moments must be treasure, as a student of music one of my main tasks is to ensure the words are spontaneous seeming alive in that moment. If I read poetry that doesn’t immediately inspire me it can be a struggle to get the inspiration, however I have to work harder to dig to find a personal connection and a reason to sing it, thanks for your thought provoking message, I’ll have a good think about this.
      Best wishes


    What a wonderful experience for you and, a bargain to boot! Winner winner👏👍


    Very nice , thanks a lot – Yes translation in Opera or poetry is a very nice, interesting and interrogative univers … I know what you mean 🙂

    The best for you !


      Bonjour Pascal, I went to see Shostakovich’s ‘The Nose’ at the Royal Opera House and it was translated into English from Russian, I’m sure purists would say a lot of details and intricacies would be lost in translation but because I hadn’t researched it first and it was so bizarre and unusual I think I wouldn’t have appreciated all the work the cast invested into the performance if I had been watching the surtitles. Usually though I do like to watch the works in the original intended language and score.
      Best wishes


    Sounds great! These days, I await the “senior discounts” so it’s about the same… being a lady of advancing age, as I am these days. Glad to know that at least one of us was able to have this experience at such a good price. 🙂


      Hehe, there is lots to take advantage of for free in London. Most of our Museums are free, and the parks are so beautiful, the libraries, I can’t keep up with it all sadly because I’m so busy.
      All my best wishes


    Hmm, I have strong feelings (even a bee in my bonnet) about language when used for opera or lieder. Something that has been set to music by a composer always (perhaps I should say almost always) sounds best in the original language. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great performances of translated works, but the word/music combination is not what the composer planned. I have to say I love sur-titles as this give you the best of both worlds.


      In the majority of occasions I’ve argued that point, and supported on the side of the purists. With regard to the Haugtussa I learnt and performed it in the original minority Norwegian language, which it was created in a way to celebrate and promote both the culture and language, but even Grieg published it in German to attract a wider audience and more singers to learn it. I think it sounds more beautiful in its original form.
      I learnt how to create the surtitles helping out at the RCS, I think they are a great invention for those operas where I haven’t had the time to learn the full story.
      Best wishes


    Sounds like a lovely time.


    Sounds like great fun. You have piqued my curiosity about the under 35. Why that age?


      Hi Colleen, I’m not exactly sure as to why this certain age bracket has been decided, and their website doesn’t seem to clarify this. Perhaps they are trying to attract more younger audience members? Looking at my brothers and his friends they don’t have much spare cash renting in London is so expensive and they have student loans to pay back, I think my brothers generation were the first to pay tuition fees, so they do lots of house get togethers. When I told the waiter what I was doing, he said he’d never thought of going somewhere like Wigmore Hall and I told him he must go and try it out, as I did with my brother.
      Best Wishes,


    That is a very good idea to encourage young age (35 here) to the performance. The show and experience you had worth probably 20 times more.


    Sorry i have taken so long to read this wonderful piece by you, The Wigmore Hall is fantastic, I love going to concerts there, and always check up what is on when I am in Britain. Have seen some fantastic performances there, including the Anonymous 4 singing Dante’s Divine Comedy over three consecutive evenings, which will live with me for ever. Glad you have found this venue, and am enjoying all the music that London has to offer, hope the studies are going well too. Best wishes and blessings, Charles.


      Hi Charles,
      Thank you for your lovely wishes and interesting comment. The concert over three days sounds very exciting, I am glad that we both can share in having fond memories of concerts from the Wigmore Hall.
      Best Wishes,


    Love the idea of only $5.00 per performance! How great was the experience too? Sounds like you are getting the most “bang for the buck” . The venue looks beautiful and you had some great experiences.


    Sounds like you had a lovely time, Charlotte. Vacationing in Aruba this week and next. Will not be on social media too much – taking some much needed time off. Saw this and just had to reply. Wishing you well. Hugs xx


    Sounds like it fabulous concert – and I remember the Wigmore Hall as an excellent venue.


      Hi Thomas, What a great post! That will certainly come in handy for visiters in London and people who live there too! I will have to have another gander at your sight now that I’m living down here and can adventure using the tube. So thank you for including me in your lovely writing.
      Best Wishes,


    I think I like this definition: “Opera is what a story sounds like, whereas the Lied is what poetry sounds like.”


    The Wigmore Hall is such a beautiful place! I am so pleased you enjoyed both the concerts and £5 a ticket was too good a bargain to miss!


      You are absolutely right Clare! I will have to advantage of this offer again in the future. They only do them on selected concerts but in saying that these two were marvellous.
      Best Wishes,


    Take me to your lieder!


    Sorry to say that I’ve never been in the Wigmore Hall. However, I love that area of London. There are some lovely coffee shops and restaurants in the streets nearby.


      Perhaps it’s worth a visit next time you are close by Rhys, and it actually had a really nice cafe too! But thanks for the tip I wish to explore the area more next time.
      Best Wishes,


    Poetry in music. Another Bob Dylan?


      He’s been awarded the Nobel Literature Prize hasn’t he, what an achievement. Poetry is a beautiful source for the lyrics of so many beautiful songs. I don’t think this is taught enough in school.
      Best wishes


    Hi Charlotte, I think poetry is a great method of storytelling, which I try to use in my own work. Since you mentioned it, I’d like to explore this a little more. My recent work has closely resembled spoken word. Keep exploring…


      Good luck with the exploring poetry in your writing! I’m sure it will be a great success. I’m intrigued about your spoken word pieces. Perhaps an opportunity to collaborate with music.
      Best Wishes,


    Yours is a charmed life, Charlotte. I like the way you delve into the theory as well as the art of the music. Now you have inspired me to find a venue like Wigmore Hall that gives deep discounts to people under 50, LOL! 😀


      Hi Beth, I hope you find a musical haven in which you can enjoy a moment of watching art come alive. Good luck with your findings perhaps a Conservatoire to hear the musicians in training we’re always happy to have a supportive audience 😊🙋🏼.
      Best Wishes,

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  1. Wigmore Hall – - October 24, 2016

    […] post is inspired by Charlotte Hoather who has just produced a blog about attending two concerts at this venue, of which I also have fond memories. She was able to take advantage of an offer […]

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