Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

As a fan of both Shakespeare’s play and the ballet Romeo and Juliet I was delighted to be invited to attend a special anniversary concert at the Royal Festival Hall featuring Prokofiev’s stirring music.

Part of the 70th Anniversary Season of the Philharmonia Orchestra saw the pairing of inspiring pianist Lang Lang with Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra.

The concert opened with Montagues and Capulets –the great formal dance at the Capulet Ball with all its pomp and ceremony. Salonen’s flair and skill directed the orchestra to a stunning rendition of the magical piece along with excerpts from the famous ballet.

After the interval Lang Lang continued the night’s love affair with Prokofiev playing his Piano Concerto No. 3. Salonen took on his role in the background giving Lang Lang centre stage.

An inspiring young pianist, Lang Lang has previously performed both small recitals and on the grandest of stages. He performed at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and in 2014 at the World Cup Concert in Rio with Placido Domingo to celebrate the final game. He recently joined Metallica and Pharrell Williams to perform at the Grammys.

Time Magazine named Lang Lang in the ‘Time 100’ citing him as a symbol of the youth of China and its future. He is one of the world’s most prolific and highest-profile recording artists.

As he took to the stage an expectant hush of anticipation fell on the audience. He is as much a talented pianist as a performer enjoying the attention of an adoring audience. Ably accompanied by an outstanding orchestra, Lang Lang was allowed to shine.

One of the highlights was the youth in attendance enjoying the riches the concert had to offer. The young gentleman next to me was bouncing around in his seat as if at a rock concert.

For now Romeo and Juliet, thanks to the skill of Esa-Pekka Salonen, remains a firm favourite.

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