I enjoy Cadogan Hall the most when I’m alone. I pick a seat at the very front or the very back, where no one can see me wipe away the tears when I’m getting all the feels from the second movement of Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’, or involuntarily shivering during the last note of Vaughan-Williams’s ‘The Lark Ascending’. (Actually I pick these seats because they’re the cheapest, but having the freedom to ugly-cry in private is also a plus.)
There’s a sense of disconnect I feel when sitting in large concert halls that is noticeably absent when I’m at Cadogan. Unlike the behemoth Barbican, the majestic Royal Albert Hall or the multi-tiered Royal Festival Hall, here the artists don’t appear as ant-like specks on stage. Every expression, articulation and breath can be observed.
I like it because it’s a hidden surprise, barely visible from Sloane Street until you wander down Sedding Street and find yourself confronted by its sudden presence. Or maybe I just like it because it has a funny name. As an American, it took me years to learn how to pronounce it: ‘Cah-DUG-en’.
Last year I had the privilege of performing there with the Royal Orchestral Society, London’s oldest amateur orchestra. It was thrilling to enter through the stage door, and I signed in on the clipboard with great pride. This, after all, was where some of my classical music heroes had performed.
As our conductor’s hands paused in mid-air during Britten’s ‘War Requiem’, I tried to savour that moment of being on stage… but I could only focus on the small hole in the side of my dress, which I was certain everyone sitting in the first few rows could see. That would never happen at the Barbican.
Jaime Tung, 31, works in publishing. Follow her on Twitter @angloyankophile.
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