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You expect me to talk? No, Mr Bond, I expect you to sing! - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
You expect me to talk? No, Mr Bond, I expect you to sing!
Dad visited this weekend on his way back from a holiday in Devon. He wanted to have a look around London, as it's years since he's been there, so we went to meet him on Sunday after lunch to go to the Cabinet War Rooms (now rebranded as the 'Churchill' War Rooms). Ironically, I didn't find the Churchill room extension all that engaging; it was a bit unstructured and too 'interactive' for me, although one of its more interesting exhibits was a naval Enigma machine. The rest of the exhibition was a more-or-less faithful representation of the rooms as they existed during the war. The audio guide was essential as labelling was minimal. We had a quick bite to eat at the cafe in St Martin in the Fields, a relaxed venue well worth remembering, and took a leisurely walk back past the fourth plinth, through Admiralty Arch, passed the new Yuri Gagarin statue, and on into St James's Park and Hyde Park.

We'd booked tickets in the stalls for the all-Rachmaninov prom, so I had a different perspective on the concert. Although a bit more distant than I'm used to, the view and the sound of the orchestra were fine; perhaps the voices of the Mariinsky Theatre Chorus were a bit blurred. The works in the concert were all interesting, though, and mostly new to me. As they entered at the start of the concert, I thought the bass soloist Alexei Tanovitski bore a passable resemblance to 007, whereas like many conductors, Gianandrea Noseda dressed in Bond-villain style. The opening few bars of the first piece, Spring, resembled slightly The Isle of the Dead; perhaps the dances from Aleko could be compared and contrasted in some ways with Borodin's Polovtsian Dances. I particularly enjoyed the folk-inspired Three Russian Songs, with just the right amount of energy, Noseda as usual employing his "whole-body conducting style". The second half began with the orchestral version of the famous Vocalise with soprano Svetla Vassileva. The final work of the concert, The Bells, in which the two previous soloists were joined by tenor Misha Didyk, probably didn't catch my attention quite as much as the other pieces, though I feel all the pieces in the concert deserve to be explored further. Fortunately with a slightly earlier finish we were able to enjoy the evening walk back through Hyde Park to Paddington.

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Current Music: Listen Again - Prom 22

4 comments or Leave a comment
brixtonbrood From: brixtonbrood Date: August 1st, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Just the person I was looking for

This reminds me that you are the ideal person to answer a question of mine (if you wouldn't mind please).

If we wanted to get day promenade tickets for Friday's prom (Simon Bolivar do Mahler 2 at 7:30pm on a Friday), when would you advise starting to queue?
qatsi From: qatsi Date: August 1st, 2011 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Just the person I was looking for

That's a tricky one. I think it will be a very popular concert - it's the right combination of the work and the performers to pull in a lot of people.

As you probably know, I tend to take a half day holiday, and I usually get to the RAH somewhere between 3 and 3.30. Sometimes, this will get me a place in the front row ("on the rail"); more often I am one or two rows further back. For a popular concert such as this, I would probably be quite a way back, but still in the front half of the arena. (FYI, I'm not going to this one).

I would definitely advise getting there before 5pm if you can. It's very unusual for prommers to be turned away but it does sometimes happen at the very popular concerts. It's also worth bearing in mind that the gallery queue is often much shorter.

If you don't know the system, the following may be useful. RAH stewards (aka "the redcoats") will probably be patrolling the queues. Make sure they give you a raffle ticket - it marks your place in the queue (don't worry about the number, they don't start at "1" each day, it's just a relative marker). You can leave the queue (for food, comfort break, etc.) for up to half an hour (or longer for a pre-Prom talk) but it's bad form to go away for too long. It's also verboten to get raffle tickets for people who aren't physically present. (As with many rules, you will find that some people are able to bend them on occasion, but I think the rules will be applied more strictly for this one). Tickets are cash only (£5). Some tickets are sold late in the afternoon, but only at the front of the queue; this is to ease the flow into the hall and to ensure day and season ticket holders (who are in separate queues) both have a fair shot at the front row. The exact number of tickets available isn't known because season ticket holders can turn up at any time until 20 minutes before the concert and get guaranteed entry. There are bag searches for some concerts - quite likely for this one, I think. Large items aren't allowed in anyway, though there is a cloakroom. This year I gather the security people have been particularly clamping down on food brought in to the hall (though you should be allowed a plastic bottle containing a cold drink).

Do ask if there's anything else you'd like to know, and good luck!
brixtonbrood From: brixtonbrood Date: August 2nd, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Just the person I was looking for

Hmmm, you've confirmed my prejudice that this would be a jolly popular one, and next week's Radio Times confirms it further (in its coverage of the as-live broadcast the following day) by stating that the seated tickets sold out in 3 hours flat in May, so there's presumably a lot of pent up demand. I think we will have to give it a miss since there's no way we can get there before 5:30, and we don't fancy this one enough to spend 2 hours in a queue for no guaranteed ticket.

Thanks for the advice though.
qatsi From: qatsi Date: August 2nd, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Just the person I was looking for

Oh, I'm sorry about that. Unfortunately (from your perspective) the Simon Bolivar orchestra got "discovered" on their previous visit to the Proms.
4 comments or Leave a comment