Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wild wald

So the beginning of summer here in Berlin appears to be marked by the last concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker for the season, held at the massive Waldbuehne (forest stage). The Waldbuehne has a rather...interesting history (google it), but people still flock there in droves; the tickets sell out the September previous! This did not deter the visiting Philippe, who turned on the computer, click-click-click, and moments later he had two tickets bought for less than their original price! Didn't I say he was a smartie?

To celebrate our good fortune we went out to Xberg for ice cream and a walk in the park, where preparations for "fĂȘte de la musique" music festival were underway

Looks cool huh?
The stone formations were relatively unguarded and little kids were crawling all over it, which was just TOO tempting for yours truly, who peer pressured philippe onto joining her in crawling around.

I am a bad influence.

Then we walked through two concerts on our way out, dropped by the house, and then off to the WB, picking up a picnic along the way.

A note on waldbuehne: it is a lot like Chicago's Ravinia, an outdoor concert area to which it is customary to bring a fancy picnic and sit either on bleacher style seats (us) or you can pay a metric crap-ton and get a set on a picnic place in the front. I was ultimately very pleased that we got the tickets where we did, but more on that later.

Picnic in tow, we stood in line for a small eternity at the security station but got in relatively quickly after that. Even though we got in pretty early the place looked full, and annoyingly, lots of places were occupied by picnics, not picnickers. We got a place next to each other and enjoyed the concert as the sun disappeared behind the skilled players on stage...

And then it was suspiciously dark...and just as the Sacre was starting it started to thunder and then it started to rain. I had brought an umbrella like most of the people there, and listening to that great music and seeing thousands of umbrellas coming out all over the was pretty amazing.

Down front the picnickers were regretting all they had paid for their seats as they scrambled for their bumbershoots, and some of them brought out a semi-translucent tarp that people sat under, and seeing their heads and hands moving against the plastic was like watching some kind of high-concept modern dance thing. It also smelled pretty rad, as rain does. The rain fell hard, but it ended eventually and the band played an encore that was remarkable not in terms of the selection but in terms of their skills as musicians.

After that a very strange tradition took place. Sir Simon Rattle stood up, said

"and now the same procedure"

and the band kicked into a very Prussian march. It was not something random though, it was a march in which there were special places to whistle with the beat and cheer. And then all across the crowd people stared to pass out and light those sparkler sticks, and the nice old man next to us actually gave us each one and lit it and it was a pretty great series of moments.

People were digging the music together, sparklers by the thousands were lighting up the night, and Rattle stood up in the back, playing the crash symbols. Then--bam--it was over. The song ended and everyone just crowded onto the trains and went home. Good concert, though I think the "sacre du printemps" didn't connect with everyone in the audience.

Snobby Prediction Moment: Sacre will be the Shosti of next season. Shi-sha!!

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