BBC proms 2015

The air of the hall tingles with anticipation. A low murmur of chatter bounces of the acoustics, echoing this way and that. The lights are dull and the red velvet décor gives an impression of warmth. The stage is set, orderly lines of chairs, sleek black stands, thousands of pounds worth of celli. The musicians walk onto the stage, almost unnoticeable in their black concert dress, clutching their precious instruments. You can taste the expectation, the knowledge that this will be an exceptional performance. The conductor walks on to astounding applause and, as he lifts his baton, the eyes of everybody in the hall focus on the small, unassuming stick. The lights dim, casting shadows across the walls. The conductor swishes his baton; and the show begins.

The basses begin their introductory bars, the low, minor notes simultaneously sending shivers down the spines of everyone in the hall. The violins enter players brows creased, as they play frantic semiquavers. The faint smell of rosin fills the air, creating a sickly sweet atmosphere. Sweat begins to dribble down the players’ faces, the result of too fast playing and the stifling heat of hundreds of bodies packed into one small hall on a summer’s day. Finally the woodwind enter with a haunting melodic tune interrupted by the eardrum splitting blast.

As the piece continues someone in the hall coughs, an ill placed and ill-timed solo. The audience jumps as the first section finishes with an explosive chord. Then, the attention of many wanders as the piece modulates into a major waltz. The smell of rosin has combined with a packet of chocolates somebody nearby has opened making an odd perfumed smell that is strangely reminiscent of an old peoples home.

Suddenly a loud chord causes the audience to jump and the shockwaves from the trombone can be felt though the feet of everyone in the hall. The piece quickly retreats to its waltz dynamic, sounding almost smug at having woken everybody up. Each male cellist has a peculiar look on their face while playing the romantic tune, as though they’re trying to play with their very souls.

Later on the violins begin to play a beautifully smooth tune, slowly ascending it sounds like a delicate bird souring through the skies on a cloudless day. To the left of the stage is an old man with flyaway grey hair sitting and watching the orchestra with tears in his eyes. As the violins begin their transition into the main tune he begins to cry. Slowly and silently, three tear drops fall quickly to the floor, leaving tiny tracks down his face before they vanish into his scratch beard.

The double basses play the opening theme again, accompanied by soft and gentle held notes from the flutes and clarinets. Then, every single played sit upright, all eyes on the conductor as he leads them into the final chords. They echo throughout the hall, strong and powerful, like a shot from a gun. The orchestra holds the final note and it echoes inside everybody’s soul. Reverberating, it pulses and the strings push their bow to the limit, creating and impossible amount of sound. Their bows bounce off the string and all the players fall still. A single strand of horsehair falls to the ground. The sound slowly dies. And the piece has ended.

The audience burst into applause, pairs of hands creating a storm of sound. Palms hit palms, each person trying to convey their gratitude to the orchestra for playing the piece in such an awe inspiring way. As the conductor gestures, each section stands and bows with dignity and grace. The conductor, ever athletic, bounds off stage and returns again, as the applause increases. Each orchestra member has a relieved grin on their face. The leader of the orchestra takes a bow a walks off stage, followed by the ever enthusiastic conductor who takes a spotted handkerchief out of his pocket and mops his brow. The applause dies down and the orchestra trickle off stage.

As the light come up, the jubilant audience begin to leave the hall. They leave behind a mass of shining chocolate wrappers, empty plastic bottles and ticket stubs. After the public have left, the maintenance staff enter, grumbling profusely at the mess and begin to clear the hall. The cellists and double bass players return, chattering, back on stage to retrieve their instruments. Soon, the hall is abandoned and silence reigns once more.

 

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