One of my most precious musical memories is of sitting on stage, my part played out, listening to the dying embers of Mahler’s 9th symphony. Bernard Haitink guided the LSO through a performance which transfixed 6000 prommers at the Royal Albert Hall. The space between final tones and silence impossible to determine, the hush of held breath and hearts beating before thunderous applause. It was a moment I’ll never forget, the mixture of Bernard, the LSO, Mahler and The Proms. Anyone who’s ever played in a Prom will tell you just how special an occasion it is. I was playing again this year with the LSO under Gergiev as we made our way through all five Prokofiev concerti; an exhausting but exhilarating evening (Although the Prommers applauding the leader giving the A on the piano gag did get a little tired by the 4th concerto). I was back this week in a guise which I have written about before on this blog, the nervous parent. My son was playing at the proms for the first time. It was a performance with Sir Mark Elder and the National Youth Orchestra, and they too were playing Mahler 9. Wonderful.
El Sistema this, El Sistema that...there have been times over the last few years when I’ve grown sick and tired of hearing about the music education method famous for producing Gustavo Dudamel from within the ranks of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. Every time they appear in Britain, the press go into a frenzy. The jackets! The twirling instruments! The dancing! Of course, celebrating young musicians is wonderful and I’m delighted that it receives coverage in the mainstream media, and for the record, I happen to think that they are brilliant!. I just wish the coverage didn’t often have the subtext of I wish we had stuff like this in Britain. Of course, it’s not just the media, music students can be just as bad. I can guarantee that when regular visiting orchestras come to London, students are fighting to get hold of a ticket, but when they can get a £5 ticket using the excellent Student Pulse App for a London based orchestra, suddenly that essay that had been meaning to get around to writing demands to be written. It seems to be a feature of being British. That self deprecating humour that we’re famous for and foreigners find endearing (so I’m told) often also manifests itself in being unable or unwilling to celebrate our own home grown talent. In short,(look away UKIP) if it’s from overseas, it must be better.
This is my personal blog. All views are my own and are not endorsed by any of the organisations I work for.