RIAS Kammerchor, who have performed my music on several occasions, kindly invited us to their Friday night concert of Estonian composers, in Berlin's Philharmonie. It started off as a rather tricky experience, travelling in from Potsdam on trains which were becoming more and more delayed, and then along roads gridlocked by the state visit of President Erdogan. The surroundings of the Philharmonie are anyway hardly tranquil these days, surrounded by new towers and determined traffic. Finally, a friendly invitation to 'come in by the stage door' caused the usual confusion, and I do have to say, it's an unusually placed stage door.
I was surprised by the size of our venue, the Kammermusiksaal (pictured) a roughly 1200-seater, steeply tiered and with boxes, like a football stadium. We learned that the venue's programme isn't curated. So, if you like you can book the next free evening with your brass band (no doubt having completed some formalities first).
But of course our concert with the 34-member RIAS Kammerchor was thoroughly professional, a rich chocolate-y sound, beautifully sustained through some lengthy and challenging pieces. In the concert's second half, I'm afraid a continuous 75-minute segment of Arvo Part's Kanon Pokajanen aroused my "are we nearly there?" reflex; thanks to its Old Church Slavonic text, it was largely impossible to know how far we had got through many similar-sounding pages. Bravo to this fine choir for sounding engaged and awake to the very end.