I scored standing tickets for Jon Hopkins with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Proms on Tuesday night. It was the first time I’d been to the Proms in 18 years or so of living in London. I didn’t realise that you can just go. It’s very affordable – only £8 each – but they put the tickets on sale at 10:30 in the morning, which isn’t quite as accessible to people whose job isn’t being on the computer all day. I’m OK, though. I was ready with three browser windows to make sure I had an unfair chance.

The stage at the Royal Albert Hall, with an orchestra and conductor and a
choir at the back.

The view from the floor

The audience was the expected mixture of cool young people and synthesiser dads. We had an excellent view from down by the front. The sound there was also good – I’m told that’s not true everywhere in the Royal Albert Hall.

There were two choirs singing some beautiful close harmonies, interesting percussion, and a wall of sound from the orchestra. I don’t know how interesting it would be to play the same note for bars at a time, but that’s just my perspective – I know I wouldn’t enjoy playing in an orchestra anyway. As a listener, I loved it.

The recording is online for the next few weeks (or as long as you like).

I caught OKI and family at Café OTO on Wednesday night. I missed his gig in Walthamstow the week before, to my disappointment. But the Home Office lived up to its institutionally racist reputation and denied a visa to MC Yallah, who had been due to perform on that night. OKI filled the void, and I got a second chance.

For a last-minute show, it was packed. They sold out in 48 hours.

Musicians in Ainu dress on stage. There is a drummer at the back. On the left, a singer has her arms raised. On the right, a man plays the tonkori.

OKI and family

The tonkori only has five or six strings, and the repetitive ostinato style that results is hypnotic and captivating. It wasn’t just listening; it was an experience.

Two tonkori Ainu instruments on a table. They are long more or less
rectangular bodies with five or six strings, pointed at one end, with a short
peghead at the other end. They have no frets or fingerboard, but two or three
moveable bridges.

Two tonkori

I took a photo of the set list, By way of musicological interest, it also notes the tunings used:

  • E D F D E A
  • F C D G♯ D♯ A♯
  • D♯ A D♯ F A♯

Here’s a sentence that perfectly explains the UK and why everything is a broken mess:

They came up with the figures of £7 billion but the Treasury was only prepared to spend £3.1 billion on the problem.

They being the National Audit Office, and the the problem being school roofs collapsing, potentially onto children. How the Government Failed to Act on the Collapsing School Building Scandal.

I woke up on Saturday from a weird and stressful dream in which I was trying to order food at a Chinese restaurant. To order you had to write the number of the meal you wanted on a tray, then go upstairs, and they’d bring up the food. But in my dream, every time I tried to write the number (39), it came out wrong, and when I tried to correct it I’d end up turning the 3 into an 8. I don’t know why my brain invented such a scenario.

I’ll be reprising my lightning talk from Brighton at LRUG next week. This time, I won’t have to speak quite so fast.