The sound desk
Day 4 of our Promming Pass, allowing us to visit every concert this week at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. And it was a bonus night tonight - 2 concerts!
The early evening concert was Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto and Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique. Not surprisingly, the concert was sold out.
So why the sound mixing desk at the back of the arena? Well, this was used for the late night concert, which was Nigel Kennedy and supporting musicians - including the "Palestine Strings". It wasn't absolutely clear what the sound desk was used for apart from an initial introductory announcement from the stage and some brief comments from Kennedy himself: if any of the music was amplified (which it may have been) it was very subtle and well done. The music for this second concert of the evening was billed as Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with Kennedy's improvised links between the movements. However, it was much more than that: it was more like "Kennedy's Variations on themes from the Four Seasons", including jazz sections and music with strong Palestinian influence. Purists might feel he was "messing about" with the music - but this is Nigel Kennedy, what do you expect? He certainly wasn't going to give us a straight reproduction of his massively successful recording of some 25 years ago.
Not a perfect evening though. They were clearly having some difficulties at the hall, so the doors opened late and the first concert started some 7 minutes late (highly unusual for a Prom, particularly as it is broadcast live on Radio 3 and this one was also going out live on BBC4 TV). The first concert (with encores) ran for longer than scheduled, so the hall was left short of time to reorganise the platform and move the TV cameras. The second concert therefore started 10 minutes late or so and, being Nigel Kennedy (who doesn't feel constrained by any rules as far as I can make out) ran for considerably longer than scheduled (including several additional pieces not listed in the programme), so we didn't get out of the hall until after midnight. When we got to the station (in time for the last train home) we discovered that they had decided that the train would not stop at our station tonight. We therefore had to take the last train on an alternative line to another station and find a taxi to get us home from there. Arrived home exhausted at 2.15am - and we have another two concerts to go to on Friday evening!