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Around America with Radio France

IN ENGLISH – Anna, this blog’s young guest writer, has attended a concert at Maison de la radio in Paris. She shares her experience with us.

I’ve never been to a concert at La Maison de la Radio. Although I mention it as one of the best places to grab cheap tickets for a classical concert, I didn’t get the chance to go myself. So I decided to book to see exactly what it’s like to sit behind an orchestra in a 360-degree hall.

The musicians have no place to hide in this environment; I could see the conductor from the front, while sitting metres away from the percussion. That’s the new idea, getting the audience as close as possible to the musicians from all angles, creating a really intimate performance. The concert was recorded and will be played at a later date on a French radio station, so there is a lot of work put into creating the best acoustics. Indeed, the sound was incredible in this environment; one pluck of a string could be heard around the whole hall.

Enough about the venue, last Saturday night (14th October 2017) I went to see an eclectic mix of music written by four American composers. Starting in Buenos Aires, the strings played extracts from Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The tango-style melodies sung out with this ode to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The cellos were tapped as a form of percussion while the solo violin soared above the rest. It was a brilliant first performance, but quite short, I would like to have heard the other two of the four seasons!

Marie-Pierre Langlamet – Photo: Gregor Hohenberg

Next, Argentina, and Alberto Ginastera’s Harp Concerto Op. 25. The concerto is inspired by an Argentinian folk dance, the Malambo. The harp had a heavenly solo in the last movement, strumming harmonic scales at lightening pace. I nearly fell asleep, only to be woken by the full orchestra dramatically closing the final movement.

In the second half, we moved quite far North to New York with Aaron Copland’s Symphony for the Organ and Orchestra. I struggled with this piece; the syncopated bluesy-influenced symphony was interesting but too much of a contrast from the Latino music. However, the epic organ accompanying the full orchestra was very dramatic, especially as it was located just above my seat. A small electric keyboard was placed right next to the conductor, which was connected to the massive organ pipes at the back. I’ve never seen a musician play an instrument from metres away from the actual instrument, but it worked really well as the organist could see both the conductor and orchestra.

It was an interesting concert from an orchestra that are renowned for their eclectic programmes. I couldn’t recommend La Maison de la Radio enough, the tickets are very reasonable and I was sat meters away from the orchestra. It’s a shame their website is only written in French, as their location next to the Eiffel Tower is ideal for welcoming an international crowd.

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