Viva Carnegie

There is a reason Carnegie Hall is one of the great artistic destinations of the world. Even though I considered myself very fortunate to have tickets for the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra last night, I could never have expected to enjoy myself quite as much as I did. Anticipating musical mastery was not out of line with the environment, but I was thinking formal, reverent, even stiff music. There was much more. There was the greatness of the orchestra of course, there was an astounding soprano, there was the extremely gifted violinist, and there was the happiest conductor I’ve ever seen.

The program was a mixture of contemporary and traditional compositions, with Swedish songs and German inspiration, but it was the emotional quality of the performance that made it so great. In the first place, the orchestra radiated a sense of wonderment at being in Carnegie Hall. When they took their positions they looked out into the audience as though to say – wow, we really are here at Carnegie Hall! Who could not but wonder at the gilt grandeur of the hall, with the tiers of people overflowing from the packed balconies. The special location, the special event, the very special opportunity . For me this launched the mood of the evening.

The soprano, Elin Rombo, was Swedish, and could have walked straight from Fashion Week hosted up the road at the Lincoln Center. She wore a fabulous green dress, her manner was elegant, and her voice transposed you to the joy and tragedy she sang of.

The orchestra reassembled for the performance of Ray Chen the Taiwan born, Australian raised violinist. He was young and relaxed, and stood at the front of the stage with an eye to the conductor, but with all his energy channeling through the music, a Max Brunch Concerto. His violin was a 1702 Stradivarius and he played it as though it was a living being, as though the strings were my very own heart strings. It was an extraordinarily emotional performance, fervent and alive – no wonder he is introduced as one of the most compelling young violinists today.

At the heart of the whole evening was the conductor, the Finnish born Sakari Oramo. If we were all rather pleased to be there in the atmosphere of Carnegie hall enjoying magnificent music, he was the one who expressed the best. He beamed throughout the entire performance. His eyebrows seemed to give as much direction to the oboes and the violins as did his baton, rising and falling to garner tender responses from the players. He was a Pied Piper purposefully dancing in shiny black patent shoes. As Mr Oramo gestured through the air even silence had it’s own key, although just at that moment when you thought it was over, a perfect vibration from a gentle bow would bring life back to the stage. Magnificent. It was a joy just to see the pleasure of music in his being, and then at the end flopping like a rag doll at the podium, bowing with a perfect mix of humility and melodrama.


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16 Responses to Viva Carnegie

  1. Annie says:

    Thanks for your wonderful review of this special night. Was the ticket price $8.00 as shown in one of your photographs? If so, even at $80, it would have been worth every cent!

    • Actually the tickets were given to me through the American Scandinavian Foundation. Much gratitude. We were 4 seats from the front so they would have cost a fortune – but like you say Annie, worth every cent.

  2. Larry says:

    I have recently read a great book that tells the story of early American ‘Tycoons’, including a lot about Carnegie that you might find interesting. The book is called The Tycoons, by Charles R Morris. ISBN 0-8050-8134-8 (An OWL Book, Henry Holt & Co, New York)

    Do like the Fitzyreport!


    Larry Anderson Hervey Bay, Qld

    • Thank you Larry, I will have a look at this. Most of what I know about Carnegie is connected to him being a robber baron, but this book may give me new insight. Whatever he did, he left a magnificent legacy in Carnegie Hall…

  3. Katherine Woolsey says:

    I walked past Carnegie Hall this time last year. It looked as though it had closed down…I would have liked to seen inside…So, hope to visit next time.
    I listen to you on the ABC as well…
    Love the Fitzy Report

    • Thank you Katherine, I appreciate it. The scaffolding is still up around Carnegie Hall, so it has the appearance of being closed. There has been a long saga of disputes over renovations to the building (with artists and iconic people like Bill Cunningham being evicted to make way for ‘progress’) but hopefully everything will be resolved by the time you return. It is definitely worth experiencing!

  4. Dallas Colley says:

    Once again all honour to you for your wonderful reviews. What a fantastic spectacle and feast for the soul you have described.. me envy envy! Shall have to make do with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for Symphony under the Stars Sunday 23 February \9 annual event much looked forward to by a number of my Adelaide friends we take a picnic dinner, some champagne and spend an enjoyable time pre show. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us in Elder park.

  5. Andrew says:

    Hi thanks for the blog its interesting, my wife and I am in NYC April 4-12 2013 could you suggest a good actors theatre off Broadway that is showing new works?
    Just googling…there’s so many!

    • Yes Andrew, there are so many – it’s not an easy choice. I’d suggest picking up a copy of The New Yorker and looking at their listings. They tend to sift out the best ( for all arts and entertainment ). I like their ‘on the horizon’ section and it would be handy for you planning in advance. Apart from that have a look at these theaters…. The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theatre Workshop and Second Stage.
      Please let me know how you go!

  6. stuhindl says:

    Gabrielle please contact our friend Karen Jacobsen a long time Manhatten Resident and an Aussie from Queensland , a great singer, piano player, author and best of all a typical Aussie

    • Thank you! I have met Karen a couple of times, first when she sang at the Australian Anzac Memorial on top of the Rockefeller Center and then at AWNY ( Australian Women in NY ). She is certainly a dynamo with a great voice! It must be funny to know your voice is giving driving directions to people around the world via GPS. I will say hello the next time we meet…

      • stuhindl says:

        Thats great Gabrielle about Karen, I went to Bee Gees Memorial opening last Thursday and it was a very emotional home coming for the sole survivivor Barry Gibb. My friend Gary Williams went to school with them in 1958 or thereabouts I took heaps of crowd pics but couldn’t get near Barry I didn’t get accreditation and the way it was set up it was nigh impossible with the local crowd Stuat J Hindle

      • What a shame you couldn’t get closer, but at least you were there! That kind of atmosphere just cannot be translated through TV or radio. So good for you and wow, imagine how Barry must have felt…

      • stuhindl says:

        As you know Barry has been on the World Stge and has been to anying everything thats “important” This home coming ad where many, many people in the crowd knew the boys when they were young budding muso’s yes he was very emotional and not taking away that he had lost his Brothers, his sister was there and his 91 year old Mum and his daughter who is on tour with him at present I have some very small 30kB pics I can send to an address if you wish my email is stuhindl @

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