Celebrations at the Prinsengracht Concert

This year it’s the four-hundred year anniversary of Amsterdam’s canals, and the 125th anniversary of the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (Royal Concert Hall Orchestra), so for the first time in the history of the Prinsengracht Concert the whole orchestra performed – it’s usually a much smaller group.

An enormous podium was created near the Rosengracht, with an arched plastic cover for the orchestra. Behind it was a dressing room for the orchestra – also on the water, and a floating path under the bridge giving access from the Westermarkt, where the technical teams sat ready to broadcast the event. Outside the Pulitzer hotel was a second podium – uncovered – for the VIPs. I was lucky enough to go to the rehearsal, here’s the view!
Prinsengracthconcert2013Last night for the actual concert the whole area in between the podium and the stage was filled with boats, and each boat was filled with people.

The music was a little bit “classical’s greatest hits”, but as the soloist Joseph Calleja explained he and Maestro Antonio Pappano choose works that most people would know. So here’s the programme;

  • Verdi: Ouverture ‘La forza del destino’
  • Massenet: Pourquoi me réveiller? from Werther
  • Puccini:E lucevan le stelle uit Tosca
  • Intermezzo 3rd act from Manon Lescaut
  • Verdi: La donna è mobile from Rigoletto
  • Puccini: Nessun dorma from Turandot
  • Lara: Granada
  • Tsjaikovski: Ouverture 1812 (‘Solennelle’) – complete with guns, bells and flashing lights.

You can see the whole concert online at Avro.nl, with a rather damp looking crowd – it poured with rain in the hour before the concert started.

Of course the concert finished with “Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten”, which Jose Calleja led. The rain was forgotten, the lights went red (the colour of Amsterdam’s emblem), the crowd joined in the chorus, swaying with the music and rocking the boats gently.

The atmosphere was wonderful, and the final lines seemed true – even to a random foreigner;

Niemand kan zich beter wensen
Dan een Amsterdammer te zijn

You can’t wish for anything better
Than to be an Amsterdammer

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