It was with a sense of nervous anticipation that we headed towards the Bedford Corn Exchange to experience the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Beethoven and Brahms concert. None of us had ever been to an event like this before, and we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
We arrived at Number13 and were greeted by Nikolaj, a representative of the Philharmonia. He took us off to a small seated area and gave us programmes and some lovely Philharmonia canvas bags. We met Jo Hudson-Lett from ‘Just Purple Presents’ who had arranged our tickets. We chatted with Jo and Nikolaj about music and a little bit about the history of the Philharmonia and its longstanding residency in Bedford. I felt like we were being let into Bedford’s best kept secret.
We made our way to our seats. It became apparent, that this was not a secret at all. The place was packed. The orchestra were in their seats, warming up.
Xian Zhang, the conductor, bounded on stage to great applause. She was instantly likeable. To be honest, I liked her before I arrived. I had read about her that morning. An internationally renowned conductor, but also a trail blazer for women within her profession. She is 1 of 100 women featured in ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’. And here she was in little ol’ Bedford.
There was silence, and then with a flick of a wrist, the music began. It’s quite a moment when an Orchestra starts playing. I looked at Jon, Oscar and Rosie. We were enrapt.
The orchestra played three pieces. Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture was Oscar’s favourite. Surprisingly short, but full of drama. Rosie’s favourite was the Brahms Violin Concerto. Alina Pogostkina made the solo look effortless and the woodwind section really shone. I could tell by the fidgeting that we were all ready for the interval when it arrived.
We came back fully refreshed ready for Beethoven’s Symphony No 7. This was my favourite. A really energetic piece that suited Xian Zhang’s style, and a fantastic way to finish the concert. We all applauded and applauded. I think it has to be the longest round of applause I have ever been part of. Rightly so. It was a wonderful experience. Humbling to witness such talent. I would recommend it to any music lover.