I was so excited when Maria announced that Ertegun Scholars were invited to attend Oxford University Orchestra’s concert of the term, especially given that one of my closest friends, fellow Ertegun Scholar Wilmien, was playing on first chair! The date was set and we, a jovial group of Ertegun Scholars, were promised an evening of beautiful classical music. The first half opened with excepts from Wagner’s Parsifal, the opera that famously severed Nietzsche’s intoxication with the composer’s works. Though without singers and a Bayreuth set design, OUO brought drama and emotion in decadently Wagnerian excess.
The second half was by far my favourite, and took the ensemble from the cinematic wonders of Wagner to the Scandinavian openness of Sibelius’s Symphony No.2. Enough has been said about Scandinavian landscapes and their sonificiation in the works of Grieg, Sibelius, and so on and so on. This night, the OUO brought out a feature of Sibelius I’ve always revelled in: texture. Of particular note was the cello section and their leader, [insert name from programme if available]. Their sounding of the various melodic and harmonic materials went so far beyond the score, resonating within and without all bodies present at the event. I loved this concert perhaps a little too much. Maybe it was the lack of social experiences during these past lockdowns that made me thirst for a room full of people, or more likely it was because this orchestra played so socially that it afford an occasion of interpersonal joy - for both players and participants alike. I know the rest of the Ertegun Community enjoyed watching Wilmien do what she does best, and it was so magical to get to celebrate the success of the concert with her afterwards.