Part of the Mazzy Travelogue saga.
Before I went to England to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with Big Dave and Empy they had hinted at the holiday involving some sort of surprise, the details of which I wasn’t privvy to since that would’ve made it impossible to keep it a surprise, naturally. All I knew beforehand was that I was to bring decent shoes and a nice sweater. Now, I didn’t have a nice sweater so I opted for a classic black button down shirt instead which proved to be quite alright.
We were off to a slow start on New Year’s Day given that we’d been up until 3am the previous night and sleep was sketchy but Empy sorted us all some breakfast and we got ready. At this point all Empy and Dave had revealed in regards to new hints was that “it’s in town” and “it starts at 3pm” which is not much to go by and research was out of the question since my phone plan doesn’t include data roaming in non-Danish countries (and there are a lot of those) so I didn’t really have a choice but to let them lead so off we went to catch a train into town.
We reached our destination without incidents and emerged from the depths of the tunnels onto the street on this beautiful, sunlit day, a bright and promising first day of the new year.
A short taxi trip later and we were at our final destination, the Liverpool Philharmonic concert hall and I was clued in a little bit more as to what was to come though the details were still fuzzy but now I could at least be certain there’d be instruments and, if all things went right, musicians to play them!
We went inside and got up to the bar and ordered drinks to be consumed immediately and another set for the intermission. It was while we were consuming the aforementioned drinks that Empy and Dave revealed that we were there to see the traditional New Year Day’s Prom concert, a compilation of classical numbers performed by the Manchester Concert Orchestra conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton.
Back home in Denmark I don’t know anybody who is into classical music so I don’t have anyone to go with to these things and because of that I’ve never been to a proper classical concert so I was very excited. That excitement didn’t decrease when I learned we were sitting in a booth, it just couldn’t get much cozier!
Just looking at the empty stage filled me with excitement, there was never any doubt that it would be great! Slowly the musicians started to take their seats, their instruments buffed and polished, shining and twinkling in the lights from above. The first violin entered to excited applause and under his guidance the orchestra started to tune their instruments, a beautifully weird cacophony of sound, a haunting ouverture of its own that grew organically into a unison crescendo.
The conductor emerged on stage to even greater applause than first violin, as per tradition, and after a few words of welcome from a man who’d prove to be a great entertainer besides a competent conductor the concert began. And it was glorious!
It’s rightly difficult to put into words what the experience was actually like because it was a cornucopia of impressions that constantly tugged on the attention as well as the heartstrings. All the time my eyes and ears were drawn to something new, something changing, something exciting and to sit there and be able to scout out each section, each individual instrument as note after beautiful note was summoned from them by these either crafty artists or artistic craftsmen (and women, Loretta!) was a truly unique experience that offered so much more than even the best recording will ever be able to reproduce.
Unlike rhythmic concerts the audience here knew how to shut up and enjoy the music, not one person tried to sing along to La Donne é Mobile or Nessun Dorma even though I really wanted to!
Then there was the right hand booth from us… Inhabitated as it was by five women in their late 60s and early 70s who had a great time! Unfortunately, that great time included sweets in loud wrapping papers and what must’ve been a Herculean intake of alcoholic beverages in the short intermission because as the second half drew on they got rowdier and louder and more out of control but they were clearly having a blast!
The small flags came out in the last quarter of the show, a room full of proud Englishmen (and one Dane plotting conquest) singing along to “Rule Britannia” with vigor, waving the Union Jack more or less in time to the music though the Rowdy Girls on our right kept to a time signature all of their own.
But all good things must come to an end and so did this magnificent concert and we let it slowly settle after the final notes had faded out, letting the beauty of what we had just witnessed seep into our souls and find a corner to occupy, a place I will revisit over and over again henceforth. We finally got up and among the people still there we made our exit from this transcendent otherworld and entered once more into the old world which was both a little more grey in comparison to the glow of the music but at the same time more beautiful and richer because such music exists in it and apart from it.