Friday, 26 June 2009

Howard Shelley, Maestro

I fitted in the customary twenty lengths of the pool yesterday, prior to attending another BBC Invitation Concert at the Ulster Hall in Belfast. The auditorium was about 75% full.

I cannot recall ever having been to a concert where the gifted conductor and pianist, Mr Howard Shelley, OBE, has worked his magic. Watching him conducting and playing the piano in such an accomplished fashion was inspirational indeed. Mr Shelley must have burned more calories, what with standing and sitting at the piano, that my swimming earlier! He excels and inspires in equal measure.

The piece he played was Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat Major. Mr Shelley was suitably and appropriately attired in full evening dress, excluding the white waistcoat, for the occasion; whereas the Ulster Orchestra continues to maintain a casual dress code.

The programme also included Mozart's Symphony No. 32 in G Major; and Dvořák's Symphony No. 8 in G Major.

During the interval the orchestra's Steinway piano was shifted towards the back of the stage. There were a few stage-hands about, and I thought nothing of it as I did my crossword; till one of them thumped the stage and, as if by magic, the large piano and part of the stage-floor - like a retracting trap-door - began to sink right down below the stage. Several minutes later the trap-door emerged again, minus the piano. I was impressed. What do they have below that stage, I wonder? Simply a store-room?

It was yet another great concert. I'm glad I made the effort to attend.

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