It seems incredible that an orchestra can create power, emotion, expression and musicality in one performance. The Philharmonia Orchestra combined all these things, making their show at the Festival Hall spectacular. After watching the orchestra perform Smetana’s Vltava, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4 and Dvorak’s Symphony No.8, it left me inspired to create music of my own and to listen to a wider variety of composers.

I liked all three pieces the orchestra played, but my favourite was Vltava, by Smetana. I knew the piece really well before the performance, as I had recently played the piece in school orchestra. I thought that the school orchestra played it amazingly, but that was before I heard it played by the Philharmonia Orchestra. They played it on a completely different level! The expression they put in was immense and the dynamics were really distinguishable. I loved the beginning where the solo flautists played their parts passionately and the way the orchestra changed moods.

I was also really looking forward to the piano concerto as it’s great to watch professional pianists hands move over the keys at lightning speed. Indeed the pianist, Francois-Frederic Guy, played brilliantly and because I had a seat near the aisle of Festival Hall, I could see how his hands darted back and forth across the keys. I am still amazed how he memorized this 40 minute concerto as he performed without music in front of him.

Dvorak’s Symphony No.8 was a great piece to watch and listen to. I loved the second movement, as the melody was easy to listen to but it was meanwhile interesting. Topping that however, was the fourth movement, which had a brass solo at the beginning and lots of timpani. It changed moods dramatically and the string parts looked really difficult as they were bowing incredibly fast.

Of course, gratitude has to go to the conductor, Juraj Valcuha, who kept the orchestra together. It was interesting to see the amount of expression he put into the conducting and like all the instrumentalists, he was a performer and he made the audience feel involved. Overall, I would definitely go and see the Philharmonia Orchestra perform again. The music they played was interesting and extremely easy to listen to and, I think, would appeal to everyone. It was the first time I had ever been to the Festival Hall, along with the first time I had ever seen a piano concerto and a symphony played live and this performance has encouraged me to attend more classical concerts.

By Celia, age 13

Celia attended a concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 11th April 2010, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Valcuha Juraj, pianist, Francois-Frederic Guy.