An Evening at the Barbican

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47): Overture: The Hebrides Op 26 ('Fingal's Cave')

Robert Schumann (1810-56): Piano Concerto in A minor Op 54 (1841-45) Pianist: Maria Joao Pires 

Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No 3 in A minor Op 56 ('Scottish') (1842)

Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner


The doors were closing at 7:30pm and if I hadn't jogged in my heels from the tube station I would have missed the first symphony. 

And the heels were painful! Normally, these are my go-to pair, the one's I can walk around in all day (and the only pair I have). But last night they h-u-r-t. As my walking has increased by 500 percent since moving to London, and all I wear are flats, my feet, unaccustomed to the rise and run they were now forced into - were crying foul every time I took a step.

Though hard to choose, I will say that my favorite piece of the evening's performance was the Piano Concerto in A minor, particularly the third movement: Allegro Vivace. There's a certain passage in that movement that took me every time it surfaced...and I hoped it would rise up again and again and again. I was very content when it did.

But what really made it into something marvelous was the pianist - Maria Joao Pires (Portuguese). She was engaging and her gestures captivating. She looked as if she were on the brink of death by thirst but with each stoke of a key she was revived by water again and again - as if playing the piano was coming to an oasis in the desert where one practically falls into the water as cupped hands bring the life-giving liquid to your mouth and face. And then it started to rain from above and her face lifted towards the sky; her whole being smiled through her countenance as she swayed back and forth. And the music just kept rising.

It was awesome.


During the first Symphony I kept designing D3 (the third project of the school year) in my mind. I developed a concept of sorts, which I further worked out during the third Symphony. Next week I will sketch these ideas out and see if they are any good. I am still not sure yet. Something about opacity and light and columns...and plants...where to put the plants...

It was a fabulous evening. I was graciously invited by a good friend and am so thankful I was! One musn't go too long in life without attending the Symphony.

Also - the members of the orchestra stood (except the cellists, who were raised on platforms) during the entire third Symphony...not sure why, but it was interesting in a cool way.