Messiaen in Peckham, Live


Post-lockdown I’ve enjoyed every first-time-out event, definitely including visits to the dentist and hairdresser. Needless to say, attending my first live concert amongst a live audience after five months was something to look forward to. I didn’t expect it to be perfect in every respect. But in fact Saturday’s concert in Peckham’s former Multi-Storey Car Park, presented by Bold Tendencies, turned out to be one of the most joyous, inspiring events I can recall even from well before 2020, music's disaster year.

The music – Messiaen’s Visions de L’Amen, energetically gorgeous, and just the right length for one sitting, at about 50 minutes. The performance – Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy so nobly progressing through the sea of notes (and playing the whole lot twice in one evening.) And the venue – one floor of the car park allowing plenty of space for a reasonably numerous audience to sit with a bit of space around them, and we didn’t even have to wear a mask, being technically outdoors. I’ve heard a few concerts here, and the sound is much better than you would expect. Even the regular trains rumbling by seemed to add something positive to this majestic sound.

Of course many regular concert-going rituals for this long awaited evening carried extra significance; preparing a pre-concert snack, dressing up slightly more smartly, checking bike lights for the first dark evening out in a long while, cycling to the station. Friendly greetings from the concert ushers (quite a few of them helpfully stationed around, finding your way round a Multi-Story is no picnic) afforded genuine warmth. Attending a live concert, an activity I’ve been doing for decades, reminded me of the person I actually am, rather than a locked-down victim of the sofa.

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer

© Judith Weir, 2020