Making an Effort

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also. – Igor Stravinsky

26th July 2016 – Prom 15 – Ray Chen and Sir Andrew Davis

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Violin: Ray Chen

Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis

Choir: BBC Symphony Chorus

Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: Symphonic Fantasy ‘The Tempest’

Anthony Payne: Of Land, Sea and Sky (BBC commission:world premiere)

Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor

Vaughn Williams Toward the Unknown Region

A yearly outing to the Proms is something I am usually aiming for in my summer holiday plans. This year, after looking at the Proms that I would be in the country for, I soon decided on an opportunity to see Ray Chen perform again. Funnily enough, it was the Bruch concerto that I saw him perform in Hong Kong several years ago. Since then he has become quite the social media sensation (well, as far as classical musicians are concerned) in terms of getting fellow musicians to participate in funny/silly videos, answering questions and giving tips live online and raising money for music programmes for young people called ‘Musical heroes‘. I then found out that Ray will be performing with pianist Julio Elizalde in the Hong Kong Arts Festival in March 2017 and he’ll also be the soloist at next year’s White Nights concert in Liverpool next summer with Liverpool Philharmonic and Petrenko.

Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Tempest’ was enjoyable with the melodies depicting different aspects of Shakespeare’s play. The second piece, a BBC commission by Payne was for orchestra and chorus. This was a new composition that was twenty minutes long. So, I was hoping for something more enjoyable than what I have previously heard as ‘new compositions’. Unfortunately for me, like many of these BBC commissions, I have yet to find the ability to appreciate this type of music. To me, these pieces lack melody and are too intellectual for me to appreciate. I can appreciate that it take skill to write this music but that is about all I take away from it. Anthony Payne was present and came down to the stage to take his bow and was welcomed by enthusiastic cheers from the audience.

After the interval, Ray Chen came on stage to perform the Bruch Violin concerto. This was an energetic performance with both soloist and Sir Andrew Davis obviously enjoying their roles and moving to the music. At the end of the concerto, there was rapturous applause which was definitely well deserved. Ray went off stage and then came back on thanking the audience for the positive reception at his Proms debut. He followed up with an encore of Paganini Caprice No.21.

The concert ended with Vaughn Williams ‘Toward the Unknown Region’ which was a return to the chorus and orchestra. This was a welcome change compared to the piece by Payne with easier melodies to follow.

The theme for the programming for this concert was a little hard to comprehend. I’m guessing ‘seascape’ could be the theme and with two pieces including a chorus, it was convenient. I’m am guessing that the concerto was in the second half to prevent people wanting to leave at the interval (I did see a few leave just after the concerto). I found the second half of the concert much more enjoyable than the first and am glad I went for those pieces in particular.

Ray Chen gig 1 of 3 done!


Ray Chen taking a bow at his debut BBCProm



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