For Martha's birthday we went to the Town Hall to hear the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.The high point was Boris Giltburg tackling Rachmaninov's glittering 2nd Piano Concerto - Martha's favourite piece of music. But we liked Tchaikovsky's First Symphony too, particularly the second half. The evening started with an Overture from Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck. We'd not heard that either before.


The evening finished with a warning form the conductor about walking home on the ice and suggesting the best way to travel in mid-winter was to take a ... Sleigh Ride. I'd forgotten what a entertaining piece it was, complete with whip sounds, and it was a lovely gift to leave on.There was a decent-sized audience: probably 2/3 of the 900 seats were filled. But from my vantage point in the gallery I could see the tops of most people's heads, and there was a definite grey-white colour scheme. Cheltenham has a lot of retired people with spare cash, so that isn't a surprise. But I think there were only a handful of people under 40. (Indeed, there were more under 40s on the stage, but only just.) This should be making the orchestras nervous, particularly with a popular programme like Rach and Tchaik. Whilst they might be younger on average, if a quarter of their Cheltenham audience isn't going to be around in 10 years, and another quarter in 20 years, can their kinds of concerts be sustained?The other surprise was looking to see just how many of the men were showing more or less "male-pattern baldness". Rather too many for comfort. Next time perhaps we should sit on the ground floor, so I won't get distracted by all this audience watching!

AuthorJonathan Clark