Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Now They Know How Many Holes it Takes to Fill the Albert Hall

September 10, 2009 · 1 Comment

I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to classical music, nor do I have a musically creative bone in my body. I can pick out the right-hand parts to a few Beatles and Coldplay tunes on the piano and I can play a pretty mean kazoo, but my incompetence with the finer, mechanical parts of music has never kept me from deeply appreciating it. I’ll actually make sacrifices and bad life-choices I usually wouldn’t make to go see a live show, and I was very much looking forward to seeing Prom 70 at the Royal Albert Hall despite my almost complete ignorance of classical music.

I’ll admit that I was more excited to see anything in the Royal Albert Hall itself than I was about the actual program: so many greats have played on that stage, it’s an amazingly beautiful and historic venue, and I own a few concerts on DVD that take place in that very hall.

I’m not sure I even have the vocabulary to describe the concert we saw, so I’m not sure why I’m blogging about it if I can’t write about it, but I want to enthuse about how much I enjoyed the night’s performance (as well as the venue it was in). Besides purely enjoying the music and wishing the performance had been longer, I found myself wondering about the musicians, about their lives and motives, and what would possess a person to be so passionate about one random instrument that they would pursue it to the highest level of achievement and proficiency. I lack the dedication, talent, and all around aspiration to do anything like that, so I’ve always been attracted to people who know where they’re going and how they want to get there.

Additionally, I also found myself wondering about the whole “BBC Proms” program itself: the fact that the BBC can sponsor, fill, and finance nine weeks of almost continual classical music concerts for 115 years, as well as broadcast them nightly on television and radio, says a lot about the importance of the fine arts to London and Britain as a whole. The Proms program doesn’t strike me as one that would exist or even be attended by nearly as many people in New York, for example, which I now realize is a terrible shame, since it prohibits people previously ignorant of classical music, like me, to enjoy a night of the most talented musicians around for a good price in a historic venue and perhaps develop and interest in the finer arts.

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1 response so far ↓

  •   allisonmschell5 // Sep 11th 2009 at 16:18

    First of all, I hope I am not awoken some morning my your “mean” kazoo playing haha. Secondly, I commend you for thinking outside the box at this concert. It had never even occurred to me to think about the people behind the music. I am learning on this trip that you must look at all aspects of things to fully appreciate and understand. I also did not know all of the information you provided about BBC Proms and that it has been going on for 115 years! I think classical music is so essential to learn about and experience, whether you understand it, like it or not. I wish more places would do what BBC has done for so long…

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