If you’ve read my previous post about the Bamberg Symphony orchestra, you might remember that their chief conductor is called Jakub Hrůša. I’ve seen him in concert on a couple of occasions in Bamberg. Well, this evening I got to experience him from the orchestra; well, almost. I decided on a whim to try and get last-minute tickets for a concert at the Berlin Philharmonie – I arrived with only half an hour to spare, and managed to secure a ticket in the front row of the Podium, the section of audience that sits behind the orchestra, for the grand total of 8 EUR -thank you, ClassicCard! (This is a scheme that enables under-30s to get last-minute tickets an hour before a performance for only 8 EUR (concert) or 10 EUR (opera), and you get whichever seats haven’t been sold, often resulting in being allocated one of the best seats in the house!)
The man at the ticket booth automatically offered me a ticket facing the stage, but I specifically asked if I could sit behind the orchestra. If you have never experienced a concert from behind the performers, I would thoroughly recommend it. Not only do you really feel part of the action, but you get a great view of the conductor – his facial expressions, his mouthed comments to the players, his smile or inside joke – and if you’re wondering how much time is left before you can get your interval ice cream (or Brezel, given my location) and you have good eyesight, you can follow the notes. (There are also much shorter queues for the toilets…)
With only 5 minutes to go, the auditorium was only about 1/3 full, and unfortunately those final 300 seconds didn’t bring many more listeners. This time it was not the Bamberg Symphony playing, but the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (Radio Symphony Orchestra). Having been astonished by the lack of women when I saw the Berlin Philharmonic in concert in November, I tried to count the female members of the RSO. I must have tried about 6 times and never once got the same answer, however, I believe it was between 29 and 34 out of an orchestra of about 100. I kept being distracted by a large fly that kept swooping into view – fairly topical, given I had just seen this excellent BBC clip featuring David Dimbleby vs. The Fly.
Unfortunately I’ve left my notes behind so the rest of this post will follow shortly…