On February 13th, I had tickets to the Rotterdam Philharmonic conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the young, dynamic and exciting music director of the orchestra.
Debussy’s La Mer and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 were on the program. Lots of percussion in the Prokofiev symphony including my favorite: the triangle. So small, so simple, yet the sound travels so far!
Here’s a short clip from the Rotterdam Philharmonic of Yannick talking about the two pieces.
My comrade-in-arts and I had seats in the orgelring at de Doelen. They are five or six rows of seats behind the orchestra and in front of the organ that takes up the entire back of the hall. I like to sit here because you get to see the conductor face to face. Yannick is a very expressive conductor and I find the interaction between conductor and orchestra fascinating. It adds something tangible and valuable to the concert experience to witness this interaction.
De Doelen has excellent acoustics, the smallest sound can be heard anywhere in the hall, which is not a small space. There are 2,200 odd seats, after all. On that Sunday, coughing and sneezing in the audience interfered with the performance on three crucial occasions, just when I could see Yannick slowly raising his hand to launch the orchestra into the first very very quiet movement of La Mer. Just in that exact moment, a loud cough. Yannick recovered very quickly, got back into the moment, SNEEZE! I actually caught the tail end of a pram being bundled out the doors. Why would you take a baby to Debussy and Prokofiev? On the third occasion, further into the concert, Yannick turned around and made a polite and silent gesture, asking the audience not to cough. What is the matter with people?
De Doelen broadcasts a message before performances asking the audience to turn off their mobile phones and to refrain from coughing. A message that is apparently falling on deaf ears.