Sunday, June 15, 2014

A dreadlocked harpist, a Catalan soprano and a night to remember in Potsdam

I am, I freely admit, not entirely 'down with the kids'. I listen to very little radio, watch very little culture on television, attend very few live performances.

And, when I do listen to music, it is seldom mainstream. I like madrigals, I enjoy chamber music, which doubtless puts me in a fairly small minority, one that might under normal circumstances be termed 'elitist'. I was extremely fortunate, though I didn't know it at the time, to have been exposed to classical music at my North London comprehensive by teachers who thought that it was part of a proper education.

And tonight, I am reminded just how much joy can be had from live performance, as I hum, slightly wistfully, one of the tunes from this evening's concert of Catalan songs at the Nikolaisaal in Potsdam. The performers, Nuria Rial, a Catalan soprano, and L'Arpeggiata, an early music ensemble led by Christina Pluhar, came to my attention quite by chance when I was searching You Tube for performances of 'Zefiro Torna' by Monteverdi - there are two different works with the same name to complicate matters.

But, when I discovered that, by utter chance, that they would be performing at the Potsdam Sanssouci Festival whilst I was in Berlin, what else was I to do but get myself a ticket (the story of which, in itself, deserves a post)?

I must tell you, dear reader, that the effort was well worth it, for I had the good fortune to watch a group of amazing musicians clearly enjoying themselves in an equally amazing performance space, performing music that ran the gamut from solemnity to cheer and which, at times felt almost like 'early jazz'.

I was also reminded that classical music is not just the preserve of the somewhat more mature. The harpist, a young woman with decorated dreadlocks, was in no way out of place, and looked as though she was thoroughly enjoying herself. The audience clearly liked her too, as she received very warm applause during the five curtain calls and two encores that the audience demanded.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening - if only they would come to Snape...

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