The Keyboard in London

My photo
We (Mike Lurie, Greg Dunbar, Lauren Buono, Shawn Riley & Bryn Coveney) are a group of students studying abroad in London for the semester from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. This blog is to document our class experiences in "The Keyboard and it's Role in London Society" course, which is being taught by Diane Birr at the Ithaca College London Center, in South Kensington. Our studies focus on keyboard instruments (the Virginal, Harpsichord, Pianoforte, Piano, Organ, Electronic keyboard) and explore how these instruments are historically interwoven with the personal and social fabric of London society.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Wigmore Hall

Stephan Loges, baritone
Roger Vignoles, piano
36 Wigmore Street

The class attended a concert at Wigmore Hall which included performances of  lieder by Schumann, Wolf and Brahms.  Baritone Stephen Loges and world-renowned collaboratiave pianist Roger Vignoles were the featured artists.  

Wigmore Hall was built in 1901 and is located in an area known for piano manufacturing. Several piano manufacturers, from as far back as the late 18th century, chose to locate their piano showrooms on or around Wigmore Street.  You can still see evidence of this today in the relief located on the building at 18 Wigmore Street (see photo).  This is where John Brinsmead, a prominent London piano manufacturer, located his showrooms for a time.
Wigmore Hall itself was first known as Bechstein Hall, as it originally was located next to this prominent piano manufacturer's showrooms.  The hall boasts one of the finest acoustics and is visually stunning as well.  The interior features an incredible arts and crafts copula, designed by Gerald Moira, located over the stage.

"Although they seemed at first to be a great luxury, I found myself following along too closely to the lyrics and their English translations.  Sure, it was incredible to understand what each song meant, but it wasn't until the encore performance that I realized how much I had been missing by following along with the words as opposed to focusing all my attention on how incredibly Loges voice balanced with Vignoles mastering of the keys."

"One aspect of the audience's politeness that I found rather humorous was their restraint from coughing, sneezing or making any other bodily noise until after a song was complete.  I'm certainly aware of the rule against clapping until an entire piece ends, so it was funny to hear nothing but an explosion of coughing peppered throughout the audience after each movement finished."

"This concert was certainly a special one.  The German was very deep, rich, and powerful.  The two performers worked so well together to create an amazing balance and a very connected, flowing sound. The pianist worked well by following the singer's intentions but still adding so much to the musical depth.  The keyboard parts were much harder then any other concerts we have heard before.  Instead of adding simple continuo Vignoles was playing almost virtuosically."

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