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Friday, August 31, 2007

A Night At The Opera Proms

Well - it was certainly a dramatic evening, but not quite as fast-moving and witty as that celebrated night at the opera with Otis B. Driftwood. And not could my escort and I possibly be described in the same romantic terms as young divas Rosa Castaldi and Ricardo Baroni. But we got on well. Not surprising, really. We were like two sweetcorn kernels on a conveyor belt of grey peas.

Diane and I have been meaning to mend bridges for quite some time now, after some harsh words between us. When she was re-selected to represent Hackney North & Stokie, I reported having voted against her for the third time, calling her a hypocrite for maintaining a left-wing stance and voting against the great majority of New Labour's reforms while living with a grand piano in Queensbridge Ward's millionaires row and sending her son to private school. That didn't go down too well. And a couple of months ago I openly declared that one of her was one too many, after Jackie Ashley called for a rash of Miss Abbott doppelgangers to fill Parliament.

A night at the promsLast night I would have given my right arm for a rash of Diane Abbott lookalikes. And for a clump of Luke Akehurst facsimiles.

I suppose it was all my fault. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with my invitation to the MP for Stokie to the Proms. After all, Henry Wood's concert season is Britain's finest example of high musical culture for the masses - a more socialist concept in action would be hard to find. The one little problem was that I chose the wrong night. Tuesday would have been a safe bet. The LSO performing Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor. Lots of young romantics.

And tonight wouldn't have been too bad. Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the house full of tree-huggers and cyclists. I could have survived that.

But in selecting a spare evening without checking the programme I made a very big mistake. Last night was Honegger's Symphonie Liturgique, followed by Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor.

My fault. Not being particularly well-educated when it comes to classical music, I associate Beethoven's 9th and its Ode To Joy with the Allied victory in WWI, the establishment of the European Union, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the triumph of humanity over repression. That's what I remember reading in the programme when, as a young boy, I saw Lenny Bernstein conduct the piece. No-one explained to me the significance of the performers. Apparently it's the antithesis of a Jewish joke, which is acceptable only when told by a Jewish comic. When a Bavarian orchestra plays the Ode to Joy it brings back all those memories of Hermann Abendroth's Düsseldorf performance in 1938 and Wilhelm Furtwängler's performance for Hitler's birthday celebrations in 1942. And last night's performance was by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Lots of Ayrian black faces and ginger hair
I only wish that Honegger's Symphony No. 3 could have compensated for the discomfort of letter part of the evening. Superficially, it was a good choice of composer - an exile from Switzerland, member of the French resistance in Paris and the man who composed the music for Abel Gance's masterpiece "Napoléon". But Honegger was also a train spotter and a fervent Catholic. And boy does it show in the agonisingly dire and laboured score of the War Symphony. Thank God it was only half an hour. Diane and I would have been forced to sneak off to the bar had it been any longer. Except that would have been extremely difficult, as we were sat in the posh seats where moving during a performance is severely frowned upon.

More Ayrian black faces and ginger hairAnd frowned on we certainly were. It was a bit of a shock for us to discover that, in 2007, the entire Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus did not include amongst its 130-odd line-up one single black face or, so far as I could tell, one single carrot-top. And there weren't exactly vast numbers to be seen in the audience, either.

I shouldn't complain. The evening had its desired effect. Adversity leads to cohesion and Diane and I were glued together throughout the evening, until we eventually able to escape to the comfort and security of a black cab.

"'Ere, I 'ad that Mohammad Sarwar in the back of the cab once..." came the conversation piece, as Diane pulled the partition window firmly shut.

I'm quite looking forward to going out socially with Ms. Abbott again. Except maybe next time I'll be a bit more careful about my choice of event.

4 comments:

Clear Hardly said...

"Diane and I were glued together throughout the evening, until we eventually able to escape to the comfort and security of a black cab." Oh yea? So what have you got against organge cabs then, Luke?

Luke Akehurst said...

What is an "organge cab"?

angel thighs said...

Black or gang cabs? Sounds a bit too Hackneyed for me!

Luke Akehurst said...

Glad to see that Hackney blog readers are as cultured as ever. Why do I waste my time representing these chavs?