The ideal match
Celebrating the tenth series of
live music at London's Wallace Collection,
by BILL NEWMAN
When I was very young, my mother -- as a treat -- took me to see Frans Hals' painting The Laughing Cavalier at the Wallace Collection at the rear of Manchester Square, just behind Wigmore Street, London W1, UK. I can remember her ringing the door bell, as I believe the gallery was only open to the public at restricted times. Famous for masterpieces by Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Velazquez, I also immediately fell in love with Madame Pompadour by Boucher and van Dyck's Philippe le Roy. They each appeared to 'listen to' and 'hear' what viewers were discussing in whispers, but little did I dream that the geniuses of Art and Music would join forces to entertain far wider audiences than could ever have been envisaged during those dark days of recovery immediately following the close of the second World War.
Initiated in 1997, the Springboard Concerts Trust has been revelling in its new series, and I was eager to find out what calibre of audience would be applying their musical concentration and viewing the pictures afresh. Hopefully, there would be none of those noisy young whoopers and whistlers who attempt to deafen older musical converts at the South Bank and Wigmore Halls, or some of the old dears, hard of hearing, who rummage in their clothing trying to locate their mobiles, then unconcernedly wonder how to switch them off. Not a bit of it. I became dazzled by the gallery's ground floor centrepiece reminding me of a kind of Nero's Palace. Instead of the dais, regal paraphenalia and concubines, you descend some steps and discover circular tables with surrounding chairs, while to each side and at the back are the catering staff who persuade you to try an extra croissant along with your second cup of coffee, but you have to negotiate this by 10.30am latest! I shared with a particularly civilised party group who were steadily gathering extra numbers and spouting in genial fashion -- 'Hello Darling, a very Happy Birthday ... oh, by the way, Monica is expecting her new baby on Tuesday!'
Copyright © 28 December 2005
Bill Newman, Edgware UK