This Week At The Proms

By Greg Last edited 144 months ago
This Week At The Proms
Shankar.jpg

Let us first inform you where we will not be this week: at Covent Garden seeing the three touring productions by the Kirov opera of St Petersberg, headed by international superstar conductor Valery Gergiev. We're not avoiding it because it will necessarily be bad, but rather because we were promised press tickets to review the performance for another (non-Londonist) publication, and the offer was just reneged. But the grapes probably, truthfully, in fact, would be sour: I mean, even if you've never been to the opera, "old Russian touring production" calls up some ghastly mental images, right?

As for where we will be, we're quite excited about the appearance of Sitar legend Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka, in concert on Wednesday night. Much of the publicity has focused on the superstar status of Shankar père — he is 85 this year. But in fact the Shankar concerto for sitar and Western orchestra that his daughter will be performing is an engrossing piece, a work that is just as interesting for its failures as for its successes. It deserves to be heard and thought about more. In addition, are we the only ones who, perversely, want to hear in the middle of the concert, over a loudspeaker, "Ladies and Gentleman... Miss! Nora! Jones!" Perhaps we are.*

On Friday Anne Sofie von Otter, the Nordic ice princess with the heart of fire, will sing Mahler's Rückert-Lieder. She is a very good singer, and will almost assuredly be the next subject on Proms FrockWatch, a copyrighted feature of Londonist.com. The Mahler continues on Sunday, when Donald Runnicles conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Das Klagende Lied, an early Mahler cantata that we're embarrassed to admit we've never heard. But with one of our favorite American mezzos (Michelle DeYoung) and one of our favorite American Verdi Baritones (Mark Delavan) singing, it will be hard to go wrong.

There is much else worthwhile this week (we might just be in the mood for Bobby "Don't Worry Be Happy" McFerrin Sunday, but no promises). So, just to reiterate: pick a concert. Go to the Royal Albert Hall, say two hours or so in advance, maybe more for the superstars. Get in the queue for either the Gallery (far away, but you can lean on something) or the Arena (very close, but you can't lean). Just ask someone which queue is which. Pay £4. It's that easy, people.

[*Nora Jones is the other daughter of Ravi Shankar, see? You all knew this, right?]

Last Updated 01 August 2005