London – Allie Taylor – 2

The past few days have been filled with music, culture, and excitement. I’ve started working at the London Philharmonia Orchestra, and this past week, had the opportunity to attend two of their dress rehearsals for their epic performance of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, which happened this past Thursday at the Royal Festival Hall. The massive production consisted of not only the 100+ piece orchestra, but a choir comprised of 5 schools in the area as well as professional singers. It was truly grandiose. In the rehearsals, I was able to see firsthand how Esa-Pekka Salonen, the conductor, works with the orchestra and runs a rehearsal, and I was able to see how everything works backstage. On Thursday, the day of the concert, I shadowed the Projects Manager, who gave me insight on her job and how she makes sure everything runs smoothly — for the performers, the backstage crew, and the audience. It was quite hectic, and clearly not an easy job, but she made sure to express her love for her profession, and at the final performance on Thursday night (which the Philharmonia was kind enough to get me a ticket to), the concert ran extremely smoothly, which is such a testament to her!

 

Then, on Friday night, the London Symphony Orchestra had a ticketed dress rehearsal at the Tate Modern museum for their performance their the following night, and because Simon Rattle (their conductor and music director) is a client of Askonas Holt, where I have been working the past few weeks, they were able to get me a ticket! It was absolutely incredible to hear such a great orchestra in such an interesting, acoustically rich space. Not to mention the fact that the museum itself is unbelievable. It is definitely one of my new favorites.

 

This Tuesday will be my first day in Bedford for the Philharmonia’s Virtual Orchestra experience festival. Bedford is about an hour away from London by train, so I am excited to have an extra bit of adventure through travel excursion a few days out of my work week! Last week, I tried the Virtual Reality experience they have set up for the festival, and it is amazing. In the experience, you are situated in the Principal Violist’s chair, right under the nose of Esa-Pekka Salonen, with the orchestra surrounding you playing Sibelius 5. It is quite a project, and hopefully a great educational tool; in the first two weeks (out of 6), they have a number of schools coming to the festival as a field trip, and there will be research conducted regarding whether this experience, or something of the sort, will have an affect on a students’ interest in taking up an instrument. I look forward to seeing the results, and seeing how the festival kicks off!

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