One of my favourite concert halls in London is Wigmore Hall. It is located on Wigmore Street near Bond Street tube station. The hall itself feels very intimate, thanks to its warm colour scheme of rich red velvet seats, walls decorated in marble and an exquisite mural with golden details on the Cupola. (A Cupola is a rounded dome forming or adorning a ceiling). As an audience member, the music created on the raised stage envelops your senses, allowing you to hear with sensitivity the quietest moments, and yet it allows you equally to feel an energetic thrill during louder, dramatic climaxes.
I visited Wigmore Hall on Thursday 13th January with George to take advantage of their great Under 35s Ticketing Scheme. This scheme allowed me to watch a fantastic concert performed by pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Dmitry Shishkin for only £5.00! The scheme is supported by Classic FM and aims to achieve a common goal of encouraging this age group and perhaps first-time concert goers to attend classical music concerts. I think that this ticket price is fantastic and certainly makes attending live concerts more accessible for me.
The concert itself was truly entertaining. Bavouzet and Shishkin joined forces on stage to play works arranged for two pianos. They performed pieces by Debussy, Liszt, Bartok and Ravel. A particular highlight for me, was their interpretation of Claude Debussy’s Nocturnes (Nuages, Fêtes and Sirènes). Originally this work was written to be played by an orchestra. Debussy then requested Maurice Ravel to arrange the work for two pianos, which I had the pleasure of hearing in this concert. The sound-worlds of the three movements are quite different from each other and express different scenes. It has been said that Nuages depicts a journey across one of the bridges of the Seine on a stormy day. Fetes was inspired by noisy crowds celebrating in the Bois de Boulongne, a popular spot for relaxing in west of Paris. The final movement, Sirene, in Debussy’s words,
‘depicts the sea and its countless rhythms; […] among the waves silvered by the moonlight, […] the mysterious song of the Sirens is heard’ .
I really enjoyed watching the charismatic artists craft the music whilst also having a fantastic time doing so on stage.
The concert was also streamed live by Wigmore Hall and you can still sample the experience by watching the recording of the concert that they made on the night 😊
After this experience, I am interested in finding out what would encourage you to watch a classical music concert? What elements would discourage you from this experience? I hope that through my blog and my work as a singer I can inspire you to explore more classical music.
39 thoughts on “A Classical Treat”
Though opera never really has been my bag, I do enjoy some classical music, mostly of the romantic period. I’m talking of full orchestras rather than concertos. Given that I have the Bridgewater Hall near at hand, I should be checking out what concerts might attract me – I have a definite hankering to hear the Planet Suite performed, not to mention long-term favourites like Beethoven’s Pastoral, Schubert’s Fifth and Eighth and other standards. The cost may now be a factor, now that i am retired and living off a pension. I shall have to look them up online and see.
Bridgewater Hall is a fabulous asset to Manchester, it is shame our school didn’t take us there more often I think i only got to go twice. I remember my friend Terry who went to school in Salford telling me he regularly popped in as a child to watch their concerts for free! You could try the concerts at the RNCM, their students are always thankful for an audience I’m not sure if some as free also, especially the competition ones.
I loce classical music, in fact, I was raised on this beautiful music. Not only at home, where my parents were big fans of the Russian composers, but also in my Detroit, Michigan public school education. Our class used to take field trips to hear the Detroit Symphony Orchestra perform their Young People’s Concert Series. My favorite? Peter and The Wolf! At the time, I was 6 years old. Classical music still enchants me <3
That makes super reading, Annette you were so lucky, we didn’t have much classical music in primary or high school. Music instrument and singing lessons were chargeable. Recently I read that in the UK 1 in 5 primary schools reported no regular music, while classical musicians are making efforts to attract young audiences the disappearance of music from the classroom could have long term impact. Its all quite concerning.
You are all bundled up. I listened to various portions of the concert. Beautiful. And what a value at £5.
Wigmore Hall is super value and they have regular lunchtime concerts too. I used to go a lot as a student. New coat of my parents for my birthday 😊.
Happy Birthday, late.
I’m already a classical music addict, and listen to it most of every day. I really miss attending live performances!
Fabulous, I miss live performances too, and I miss performing.
The under 35 program is a great idea, Charlotte. As far as encouraging me to attend an operatic performance you are too late. I have been a season ticket holder to the San Francisco Opera for a number of years. Since I left there I have not lived in a city with an opera company. I have seen performances at Teatro alla Scala in Milan,and other cities. With Covid I have to content myself with my records. Best wishes for the week.
Is there no opera company in Texas at all? How wonderful that you got to Teatro alla Scala just one dream of mine. I have a good friend that lives in San Francisco we were at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland together. I always appreciate your friendship and encouragement John.
There is opera but too far away.
You and George have both inspired me to listen to more classical music. I didn’t really bother with it until I started to listen to you sing, listened to your explanations of the music and a variety of operas which have led to my interest in classical music increasing all the time. Thank you 🥰😘
No thank you Gill, for all the lifts to concerts and helping me to learn so many words can you remember all those folk songs, sooo many words. I have always appreciated your and Terry’s support.
All my best wishes
I grew up listening to the music of my parents, which was folk music from Appalachia and the British Isles, singer-songwriter Burl Ives and and assortment of music of that type by various artists from way back when. My siblings loved rock and roll and music of the 60s and 70s. I sang in the church choir as a child. I had little exposure to classical until I met Rick, whose first love was blues and bluegrass, and we had attended a concerts of all kinds, including classical. Rick’s mother loved opera, and I got some exposure there, and I really appreciate the history you provide to go along with the music. My musical horizons widened considerably when I met Rick. I can appreciate beauty of any kind, and the human voice is a unique and beautiful instrument, especially yours. I love most kinds of music, but as you may have noted, I gravitate towards the quieter, more fluid and gentle pieces. I am currently listening to the concert by Bavouzet and Shishkin in the link you provided, and do appreciate this music. I tend to connect with individual pieces of music, rather than genres. If it speaks to me, it speaks to me, and it doesn’t matter where it is from.
I love folk music too Lavinia, I learnt some Aaron Copeland from America and sang a lot of British and Irish folk songs. My musical horizons widened massively when I met George too and attended the conservatoire there were instruments there I’d never seen before and the Scottish Traditional music was always so enjoyable. Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate your message. I also agree with you about finding music that connects to you.
Charlotte, you have been instrumental in my appreciation of classical music, especially Opera.
Yourself with George has made me love it more. Whether you and George are performing a classical piece, or a contemporary piece, I have been enchanted by the voice with only piano accompaniment.
I am not aware of a program here in Toronto that compares to your Under 35s Ticketing Scheme.
Nonetheless, I intend to attend a performance of … I don’t know yet … in the future.
We are under a stage 2 lock down here, so this will have to wait.
My dearest wish is to see you and George perform live.
I am thrilled you got to see this concert. The hall sounds enchanting.
I’ve been listening to it, and will continue to after I post this comment.
Cheers to you dear Soprano!
I want to say Diva. I’ve used it once before. I wondered if that is okay?
I think Diva is a compliment, and so far you are my only one.
Yay, great news, a full house with an appreciative audience is important. You should suggest the scheme to attract new audiences. Are you coming out of lockdown soon? I feel like our careers have been locked down for two year even though we’ve managed bits of work booked before lockdown started. We would love to come to Canada.
Viva la Diva, Art is Calling for Me is one of my favourite arias, I’m not celebrated enough yet ‘but I want to be a prima donna’ hehe another line from the song.
Cheers to you always,
You are celebrated enough for me!!!!!!
Dear Charlotte, I’m fond of the classical music, however more the baroque time. So, it’s always a pleasure to watch a concert, to listen to maitres who yet keep the art of great performances.
Happy New Year! Might 2022 be a good year for more professional discoveries for George & you.
Excellent Maria, I’m just working on some Handel right now. Happy New Year to you too I wish you the best of everything.
As a classical music marketer, I would say one of the best ways to encourage people to get into classical music is to do what you are doing: explaining it to the average person, without assuming they have to have a music degree to know about the music! While the classical music world needs a steady stream of musicians who can perform the music at a high level, one of the undervalued roles that we need is enthusiasts and advocates who can talk it up!
Thanks very much Matthew, I’ve been sharing my love of opera and classical music since I started my blog eight years ago. I love it when I can persuade someone to go and listen or to attend a concert or opera and discover it really surprises them. But most of all I love to perform.
Thank you so much for sharing this performance with us. I have always loved classical music but growing up in country Australia there was not a lot of access to live performances. But fortunately our national broadcaster the ABC use to do classical music concerts in regional centres and schools would attend these concerts. Seeing such music performed live certainly provides a range of experiences and emotions which has stayed with me years later.
My old church in Melbourne use to host several classical music concerts and we were treated to such a high calibre of talents for a modest door charge.
I agree making it affordable for younger audiences is definitely one way to go and maybe including someone of a similar age group to share their knowledge and passion such as yourself would be an excellent entry point into the world of classical music!
I do like to share knowledge in our concerts about the composers and the music and the songs. I get a lot of joy performing for children too. Thank you so much for your message and I’m pleased you got to see the video.
Thank you Charlotte. Here’s hoping one day we can travel to your part of the world again to see you perform in person or maybe one day you come to Australia!
I wonder if you closed your eyes and dreamed it was George up on that stage?
There was not much music in my house when I was young. We lacked anything but a radio.
But when I first entered High School and HAD to attend the compulsory music classes in the first year, I was introduced to Paul Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice and was hooked.
For a short time in London I worked for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records and my role was to transcribe and type up the stock lists from staff in actual stores flicking through the racks and recording into audio equipment while the cash registers were ringing, records were being played, and shoppers were chatting. At the end of each day my lists were circulated so orders could be placed for new stores. Colleagues wondered why I could name and spell everything from the Deutsches Gramophone label, at the same time as having no clue about current artists. I once transcribed Rod Stewart’s Atlantic Crossing album as Elastic Stockings.
Later, when I returned to Australia, I had a season ticket to the Sydney Symphony for many years. Once I saw Ashkenazy conduct. But my favourite to watch was the timpani player. I could picture him or her scooting down for a pint between bars – or maybe even knitting in the wings. Then they rush on, go boom-boom, and dash off again. I hang on my seat waiting for the moment (while also taking in the music).
I haven’t been live for a long time. An orchestra is not readily available where I’m currently living. Now I tell the Google Home Assistant to play classical pieces.
By the way, my friend, who owned a harpsichord until recently, claims Tchaikovsky is something you catch when you are young, but then you get over it.
Of course, I want the very best for him he works so hard, I have seen him on the Wigmore Hall Stage, my parents came down to watch him too, he was fabulous. We were similar my parents aren’t musical and we only got a keyboard because I needed one to practice. But I met a classical singing teacher when I was 11, prior to that I’d only ever sung musical theatre numbers and pop tunes. I never looked back. I started to read the beautiful music and thought yes – this is why it has lasted the test of time.
I loved the Virgin Records story. I listened to a lot of Tchaikovsky when I was little because I took ballet classes and it was a favourite of the ballet teacher. She had a piano in the studio and her friend would play for us occasionally and always in exam conditions. I do still enjoy Tchaikovsky 😀.
Have a lovey week ahead.
One of the last gifts my father gave my mother was a Sohmer to replace our worn out Cable-Nelson. I studied piano for a while. My car radios have always been set at the local classical station. Creedence Clearwater Revival is the only thing that can woo me away from classical.
Fabulous what a gift, I would love to have the room for George to have the grand or baby grand he needs. I only listen to piano and chamber compositions because of him and I have grown to love them and recognise them.
The piano is special. We still have the Sohmer! No. 1 son took lessons on it.
That’s good to hear. Good luck to your son with his practice.
Clearly a classical treat, as was your Ave Maria.
Thank you Derrick I’m pleased you enjoyed it.
This is so, so beautiful. It must be fiendishly difficult to play together and yet is sounds seamless – I am listening at the moment.
So good of Wigmore to share the video I was thrilled when I saw it to share it with you. My Mum said she spotted us in the audience near the back when the video started lol.
Sounds wonderful, Charlotte! Liszt is a personal favorite.
Thank you Sheila, Liszt is a favourite of mine too. Hope you are all keeping well.
At one time we did go to classical concerts ever so often. Proximity of the concert hall was key. Now with COVID… There is another good concert hall not too far from our new house… One day…