Tim is a primary school teacher and Bristol UWE drama graduate with wide and varied musical tastes.
After the excitement of the performances on my first day at the Bristol Proms, I could not wait for the second installment, and it certainly did not disappoint.
The day’s performances began with Sinfonia Cymru and Tom Morris – Towards a Staged Concert, a somewhat more ad-hoc and experimental show than other events so far during this season’s proms. Requiring a certain amount of audience participation, initially most were somewhat reluctant to contribute their thoughts and opinions on the music being presented. With my lack of musical background, I certainly wasn’t brave enough to raise my hand and chip in with my opinions. Tom Morris persevered nonetheless and gradually the audience began to get on board. An interesting concept was presented and explored, firstly about the relevance of closing your eyes during a piece of music and then watching the same piece of music being performed, and secondly an investigation into how a piece of music can change when being played in an active manner.
As with so many of the shows so far, visually it was wonderful. Audience members responded afterwards that “the setting alone made the experience magical” and “just being on the stage in such a famous and historical theatre made it thoroughly worthwhile”. A theatrical look into how we can interpret music, responses were that it was “good to be lost in a story of music”. During an on stage discussion between Tom and a musician, when pushed on whether or not he found it easy to play the difference between an active and descriptive piece, the cellist noted that, “it didn’t lend itself particularly well to this piece” – perhaps implying that it was a more complex concept than suggested- it was gripping nonetheless. Different, edgy and unusual, one audience member reflected that “it was delightfully experimental, which is what I suppose the Old Vic is all about”.
As with Ji Lui, I had not heard of Daniel Hope before, but I had done a little bit of background reading (follow me on Twitter @TimDE_1 for links to his bio). I was fully aware of the magnitude of musician we were being presented with. And, I am delighted to say he more than lived up to expectations.
During the interval, one audience member recalled that he couldn’t believe it was only an hour as he felt like he had been in there for two – time had flown. As a classical music newbie, the particularly refreshing thing about all of the pieces played by Daniel was that they were short, different and exciting. If you were unsure as to whether or not you liked classical music, this was the gig to watch.
Noted by Daniel when he introduced his band, the second violinist Simon Papanas was just as outstanding as the main man himself. Played almost like a duel throughout the evening, he added a fine layer of support to the lead player. The star of the show was perhaps reserved for an unexpected and typically forgotten member of the band, the percussionist. A loveable and hilarious Michael Metzler taking up the role to amuse, dazzle and showboat his wide range of skills, even taking up a seat in the audience during the finale to watch the show for himself.
Upon the crescendo of the final piece, rapturous applause ensued, followed speedily by a very well deserved standing ovation. He returned on stage for no less than six bows and two encores, responding to a demanding audience as they pounded the floor with their feet and riotously called for more. After coming back out for the fifth time, and just before beginning his second encore as a few audience members rushed back in from the foyer, Daniel joked “you can leave if you want to, we’re staying!” It was more like watching the finale of the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury festival than a classical music concert! Hope bathed in the adulation normally reserved for rock stars and ended with a beautifully soft piece that sent us all home reeling at the magnitude of what we had just seen. Amazing.