Birthday night out at Royal Albert Hall

If the dinner at Fischer’s was considered as part one of this year’s birthday, then a night at the Royal Albert Hall was the cherry on top! It is true that when we were leaving from the restaurant, my boyfriend surprised me with two tickets to… Royal Albert Hall! I could not believe it! It was my first time there, as to my shame, I’ve never visited before, so I can tell you I was all excited and stuff! I couldn’t stop hoping that time would pass quickly, Thursday would arrive, so we could go there and listen to some jazz music, which I seriously enjoy. Oh, you know what? One of these days, I am definitely going to visit (again)one of these little gems in Soho and tell you all about it! But first things first…

The tickets were for the late night jazz performance series in the Elgar room at the Royal Albert Hall. For that Thursday, the 14th of November, it was a live performance of the Art Themen Organ Trio. Art Themen, along with keyboardist Pete Whittaker and drummer George Double, played some nice jazz tunes and had plenty of fun along the way. We learned that George has performed with Shirley Bassey, while the trio had just released their album. Art Themen is a lovely musician and an inspiring person, because he is a self-taught musician and a former orthopaedic consultant. How can medicine and music be combined? Well, in the “jazz doctor”‘s case, I think there is a way!

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Art Themen himself!

As a person who is fundamentally curious, I honestly believe that jazz music is quite interesting and the musicians that play jazz are incredibly talented. Jazz music is inherently spontaneous and improvisational and Art Themen is just like that! He has a very individual style and it is amazing to think that he has been a jazz performer at the British music scene for over forty years! I guess for someone who would be more into jazz, listening to Themen would be like listening to their idol, like I’d have been if I could see Frank perform live! This is a true experience that you have to explore with all your senses and I am sure that everyone could enjoy that performance. This time, it was more like “you needed to be there in order to understand” type of experience.

The Elgar room is a diverse and modern space, located inside the Royal Albert Hall, on the third level. There is standard and cabaret style seating, which can help the space be warm (but only figuratively speaking…) The performance started later – around 9:30 and lasted until almost 11. That was one reason that this live was a bit tiring for us, as it would take us over an hour to reach home and that wasn’t good, because you know, school night… Despite that, we couldn’t help but enjoy the live music, the venue and the way the staff were so very helpful. You cannot imagine how wonderful the staff was! Opening doors for us, letting us pass through, the staff at the Royal Albert Hall should give lessons on customer service and I am not exaggerating!

Despite only casually listening to some Miles Davis or John Coltrane, I couldn’t help but appreciate Art Themen’s performance. He started off with some compositions from his influences, then moved to other compositions from his albums. I loved how supportive he was for the other members of the trio, George and Pete, and how he made fun of them (but always kept it professional and tasteful). Even after the little tidbits Art offered before every composition, where he would congratulate his fellow members and induce some applause. The only thing that I didn’t like was the fact that the venue was (literally) so cold! I think that the AC was working overtime and after arriving almost frozen – it was dreadful outside, freezing cold, windy and rainy, as well as very humid – the venue didn’t really help things. That is my only misgiving, as this was not at all comfortable.

The jazz night at the Royal Albert Hall was a great gift and I believe that we both enjoyed the performance ( in essence the musical bits). However because the room was so cold, we didn’t feel much appreciative about it and even left before the encore! I do not remember that last time I did that, as I am all for expressing my thanks to the musicians. This time though, the lateness of the hour, our tiredness, along with the coldness of the Elgar room, made it all the more difficult to stay until the end. I do not really know why the temperature was set so low, but I sure hope that next time is not going to be like that. And I am absolutely certain that there is going to be a next time, as the Royal Albert Hall still has a lot of secrets to uncover for me! I think you know that there is a dedicated Royal Albert Hall tour that runs most days for an hour that I am itching to try! Looking forward to that in the new year!

Till next time,

Sofia-Maria

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