The ACO at Carnegie hall

This afternoon we visited Zankell Hall, the smaller hall in Carnegie Hall for the final concert in the tour, the ACO. It was wonderful seeing out own familiar musicians in this lovely place and the star turn was the brilliant clarinettist Sharon Kam playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. Afterwards we were all invited to a great after party in their hotel, where we let our hair down with the musicians.

Twice at the Metropolitan Opera!

We have been to the Met twice in the last few days! First for a rather old and traditional procduction of Aida, and then an anything but traditional Don Carlo in a dark challenging new production directed by Nicholas Hytner. The Met is such an exciting place to visit, just walking into Lincoln Centre with the huge round arches of the Met facing you is almost overwhelming. The theatre with its lavish foyers, obviously truly rich patrons and the vast auditorium seating nearly 4,000 people is almost twice as big as most opera houses. Nevertheless it was so well designed when rebuilt in 1966, you can see and hear almost perfectly from anywhere.

Mahler 6 with the Boston Symphony

We are lucky enough to be in New York for ten days, and the first night could hardly be bettered. It was Carnegie Hall and the first visit to New York of the great Boston Symphony under its new musical director Andris Nelsons, the young Latvian maestro who has taken the classical music world by storm. They played the Mahler 6 like inspired angels. Nelsons throws all his energy into making the performance thrilling, sometimes grasping the railing of the podium with one hand to stop himself falling into the middle of the audience! From then it has been museums like the Frick, Metropolitan, Tenement , MoMA, Whitney, Central Park and the HighLine. Everyone is entranced by New York, even those who have been here many times

Chicago: the great city on the lake

I was unable to leave Australia to arrive before the group in Chicago so I walked straight from the long gruelling flight into the bar of the hotel to greet all our group well into their 2nd round of drinks. It’s remarkable how the buzz of meeting a whole group of new people can energise you, despite exhaustion. They were a wonderful group of people who themselves were energised by the prospect of a couple of weeks in the great cities of Chicago and New York.

While we were in Chicago only for three days, we had a terrific program including a fascinating cruise on the river, a walk in Millenium Park, a modernistic wonder on the lake in downtown Chicago and a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home. Our performances were:

  • Roy Kinnear’s excellent family drama The Herd at the Steppenwolf, arguably the most highly regarded repertory theatre company in the US
  • A magnificent concert at Symphony Center with the Chicago Symphony playing Shostakovich 8 and my first hearing of the phenomenal young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, playing Rach 1