Back to the reeds, greenish water and concrete of London EC2 that we know and love. But this was a special evening in the Barbican Concert Hall, the London Symphony Orchestra's season opening, and the first live performance by its fine Chorus since February 2020. For me too it was a momentous day, the first time my music had ever been played by the LSO. Even more fortunately, Natural History, the piece of mine being included, had received its premiere (in 1998 with the Boston Symphony) under this evening's conductor Simon Rattle.
His recall of the music was remarkable even by his standards, and we both recalled the actual premiere, in a huge blizzard in early January, with snow blowing in whenever a side door was opened. Our soloist then was Dawn Upshaw. On this evening the solo part was sung with perfect élan by Lucy Crowe. With inspiring vocal energy, she also sang in major works by Julian Anderson and Vaughan Williams.
The orchestra had gone to huge Covid-cognisant lengths to present an almost full-sized band onstage with the chorus in an upper auditorium balcony. It was brave of them to undertake this, and so reassuring for us audience, to see large scale musical performances inching ever closer to concert normality.