40:8

Bristol Concert Orchestra. St George’s Hall, Bristol

Explains itself, venue I’ve already waxed lyrically about in 40:4.

Prompted by a tweet from the venue saying tickets were still available for this tonight, I decided to just go. £8 for the back stalls, but as the sound in St George’s is so wonderful it makes no difference where you sit. And back stalls is still only row 3, overlooking the stage. I’ve rarely been to a classical concert, maybe 3 or 4 in my life. Growing up a working class kid on a council estate didn’t lend itself to a background love of classical music. So this was to be a little journey of discovery, which is part of the point of this whole thing.

The gorgeous sound quality in St George’s really lends itself to an orchestra, you can make out the individual instruments in the blend. The opening pair of Debussy pieces were rather lovely, the first more genteel, easing us into the concert and setting the scene for the rest of the evening. Then some orchestra shifting and somehow a pair of pianos made their way into the middle; we were to be treated to Mozart’s concerto for two pianos. I love an old joanna, and I love me a bit of strings on a record (ahem Elbow, Starsailor) so this was perfect for me. As was the fun Stefan and You-Chiung were clearly having duelling on the next piece where all 4 hands were on one piano keyboard.

One of the lovely things about St George’s is that they are family friendly and happy for children to come along and there was a gorgeous little girl, all of 3 or 4 I’d have thought mock conducting and twirling around in the stalls opposite. To see her unabashed joy and participation was wonderful.

The Dvorak symphony (number 8 for those who know) was unashamedly romantic and sentimental. It was too much and although beautiful, not for me. But, they had saved the best for last with Marquez’s Danzon No 2. I loved this. The percussion alone, hinting at South American rhythms, the frenetic strings (the violinists were going like the clappers) and the wind section backing it all up in a frenzy of excitement. My feet were tapping and plenty of others in the audience were too. It was life affirming stuff, playful and full of joy.

This was my 2nd trip to St George’s on this adventure, and I hope it won’t be the last. I have always felt welcomed there, even when I have no idea about the music I am hearing!

8 down, 32 to go.

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