A Bream Come True and a Joyful Neuss
It seems like a simple choice. Up close you can see the performers better. Sitting further back, you might be able to hear the music better, particularly when there are 2 or more players. You allow some space for the sounds of the instrument to blend together.
But market forces come into play – you know: supply and demand. Some concerts sell out in a matter of minutes these days. And high ticket prices suddenly can make some of those seats up in the rafters more attractive, regardless of the view or the sound. Simply said, you may not have much choice.
But there are exceptions to the rule. And there are happy endings to go along with them.
Years ago I hesitated when I thought about trying to get a ticket for an out-of town recital featuring the legendary English guitarist Julian Bream. I assumed it would be sold out soon after it was announced. But I decided to call the telephone number provided just for the fun of it. And that was days after I had seen the ad for the concert.
Well it turned out that there was a ticket available in the center of row 3 – yes, row 3! I should add that the concert was sponsored by a local guitar society, not a large venue with a computerized ticket service. That might partially explain my good fortune.
So how was the concert? It was as memorable as I hoped it would be. Bream was beyond his prime, but by then a well-seasoned performer. Though he appeared so nonchalant, he did make eye contact with the audience, so much so that I felt he kept looking at me for approval. I didn’t hold back. And I’m still excited every time I recall that I sat in the center of row 3.
Julian Bream turned 85 on July 15th. He’s not performing or recording anymore. But there are plenty of his recordings available. A 40-CD set was released around the time of his 80th birthday. It won’t get you into the 3rd row, but I’m guessing it might get you a bit closer to realizing Bream’s legacy.
If you’ve listened to Classic Mornings from your front row radio seat over the years, you may have heard me mention a place in Germany quite often – usually in conjunction with playing symphonies by Michael Haydn or Luigi Boccherini. It’s Neuss, Germany. Up until 50 years ago it was spelled “Neuß” with that German character known as a “sharp s” or “Eszett” rather than the double s.
I’ve mentioned the city in conjunction with the German Chamber Academy of Neuss (Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss). The ensemble has recorded the complete symphonies of Michael Haydn and Luigi Boccherini, which are in the Friends of WILL Library. Now I have to add that some may have thought they heard “German Chamber Academy of Noise” if they were half-listening. The pronunciation of Neuss is close to that of the word “noise,” but it ends with more of an “s” sound than a “z” sound.
Neuss is on the Rhine River – right across from the better known city of Düsseldorf. That’s kind of amusing since Neuss is one of the 2 oldest German cities, I understand, along with Trier. It dates back to 16 B.C. Dusseldorf came around about a millenium later. If you don’t know where Düsseldorf is located, look it up knowing you’re going to find Neuss as well.
And let me remind you that you can look up the spellings for all the names and words you hear in conjunction with the classical music selections on Classic Mornings. The direct link to the playlist at our website is: will.illinois.edu/fm/playlist. Composers, titles of selections, performers, and CD labels/numbers are listed for each work. You can even check to see which selections you missed, though it’s much more enjoyable to hear the music before or while you’re checking the information. So do tune in to Classic Mornings, Monday through Friday from 9-noon on FM 90.9 or online at will.illinois.edu.