|The stage after the Prom 13 performance. The choirs were tiered in front of the organ.|
|Our view of the back of Royal Albert Hall from where we stood in line.|
Anne and I had scouted the situation the previous day, and arrived at 5 p.m. to "queue" up for the £5 standing room-only gallery tickets to see Prom 13, a performance of Verdi's Requiem involving the BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC National Chorus of Wales, London Philharmonic Choir and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. There must have been 500 people on the stage. The music was amazing to hear; the BBC broadcast is available for the next six days or you can listen to this 1939 recording available through the Internet Archive. The gentleman behind us in line, while reassuring us that we would get in, said this was a particularly popular performance every year.
Almost as interesting as the music was the crowd. People brought wine and food into the hall for picnic dinners. Many people in our section never looked at the stage; they simply lay down with their eyes closed and listened to the music. Some wrote in notebooks or worked on laptops as they listened. One gentleman across from us -- clearly a musician -- played his "air" instrument as he listened. (I won't hazard to guess which instrument was his speciality. Definitely not guitar though.) Another man had the sheet music and directed the entire piece from our gallery -- baton and all.
There was absolute quiet during the music. Many people, including the usher, removed their shoes so as to not make any noise as they walked. There was no rustling of papers. No unzipping of bags. No ringing cell phones. No talking. Not even coughing -- then there was a flurry of it as soon as each movement ended. I have never experienced such rapt attention anywhere in my life.
Here's a link to Anne's video: