The new normality.
Just living again. Traveling, eating out, going to festivals, visiting museums, taking children to school. Attending hi-fi shows. Hanging out in bars. Meeting the family. No need to postpone doctor’s visits and surgeries. How about going to concerts or hi-fi shops? All things we normally wouldn’t think about. All things that we only secretly dared to dream about in the last eighteen months.
And then suddenly an e-mail from the Concertgebouw Orchestra pops in. An invitation to the Opening Night. Always a great spectacle, every year something special. A famous soloist, the audience in black tie, the large hall beautifully decorated, a walking dinner – an evening to live up to. Not in 2020 though. The Concertgebouw was closed to the public for more than a year.
In the email, it said that we were invited for an Opening Night in the open air! The event location remained a surprise. The Orchestra wanted to graciously offer a gift to Amsterdam and the entire world altogether. A great concert as a token of gratitude for the support shown by listeners, music lovers, and the city itself during corona. Live in the capital, broadcast on several television channels.
How happy we were! But also a bit skeptical – such an event doesn’t fit anywhere in this big city, right? What if it rains or gets windy? After all, it’s scheduled for September 10. What about acoustics? And what should we wear? The usual “black tie” dress code had now become “festively casual”.
The program was only announced a week before the concert: a musical journey through Europe! Beautiful pieces, one by one inspired by the noise and life in the city, perfectly fitting the location. The concert turned out to take place on Dam Square in Amsterdam.
The British conductor Daniel Harding, also a scheduled flight pilot with Air France (what a striking combination!) would take us to Paris, Italy, Germany through the music of Ravel, Verdi, Dutchman Joey Roukens, Richard Strauss, Paganini, Kreisler, and Gershwin, with soloist Leonidas Kavakos.
What a prospect! The only thing that could throw a spanner in the works was the weather. In the Netherlands in September, 3000 people on Dam Square… Fingers crossed.
And then the weather turned beautiful, until September 9th. Friday, the 10th it was pouring rain with storms here and there. The organizers assured us that everything would be fine that evening. Umbrellas were not allowed anyway…
It dried up around 7 pm. 8 o’clock reception in Beurs van Berlage (with corona check, of course). Before 9 o’clock we sat in the evening sun, among almost three thousand music lovers full of hopeful expectation.
Beautiful chimes heralded the spectacle. After an impressive ascent of the musicians with their instruments among the cheering crowd, the concert could begin.
In a word, it was magical. Very unusual, with street noises, the occasional plane landing at Schiphol – perhaps waving to conductor Harding – birds, mopeds, and a bit of acoustic amplification. There was even a police car with blaring sirens sounds during the softest, most intimate passages of Kreisler’s Liebeslied. However, it was all right.
It was pure pleasure, up to the last notes of the umpteenth encore – Rossini’s Willem Tell Overture – absorbed in a spectacular fireworks show. A worthy conclusion to this MUSIC FEAST.
Chapeau! to the Orchestra, the organizers, and everyone who contributed to an unforgettable evening.