Thursday, May 12, 2016


Posted Thurdsay 12 May. Written Good Friday 2013

Earlier this evening I joined an audience of thousands at the O2 Arena for a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. The memory of this evening will stay with me forever.

All around me the soft murmuring of thousands fills the vast space of the arena. Expectant, excited, impatient. One by one, members of the orchestra amble toward onto the stage then sit chatting to each other whilst looking out into the sea of faces which watch their every move. A choir of a hundred file to the rear. Cherub-faced boys resplendent in scarlet robes giggle into cupped hands whilst behind them a white wall of expressionless singers sit in silence, manuscripts on their laps.

Suddenly the audience breaks into spontaneous applause as the leader of the orchestra appears violin in hand followed by the imposing figure of the conductor who briefly acknowledges his welcome then turns to the musicians, tapping his baton on his music stand. At once the instruments burst into a discordant scramble of random notes as they tune up, and then quiet. The choir stands, the baton is raised and suddenly every corner of the arena is adorned by the sheer beauty of Bach’s inspirational music.

The steady rhythmic beat soon gives way to soaring voices and lush orchestral blankets of sound. The elbows of two dozen string players dart in and out in perfect synchronicity. Trumpeters with reddened balloon cheeks sit alongside pinch-faced oboists whilst the percussionist looms over the orchestra hammers in hand. I close my eyes and everyone around me disappears. It’s just me and the music, lifting me, dropping me, faster, slower. Bliss. My pulse increases, my heart beats faster. I feel excited, uplifted. I am at the mercy of the music. I am in another world.

It’s nearly over but I want more. I crave more, please let it never end. The sound rises and falls and rises again carrying me with it and I shudder as it reaches its magnificent climax!

Then silence. A second of silence that seems to last forever.

I feel the warm glow of satisfaction. I am emotionally drained yet filled with contentment. I slowly open my eyes and am suddenly aware of thunderous applause, people standing, clapping, whistling, shrieking for more. One by one the people leave. I am left alone with just my memories of a night of passion.



  1. Hi Keith - what an amazing concert to attend ... with Passion being the theme - it is a wonderful work. Brilliant description of your time ... I'm sure it'll stay with you ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Just beautiful. What a wonderful experience. Thank you for the poetic sharing.

  3. What I would give for an evening such as this, the memory would remain for a lifetime! Bach's compositions have the amazing power to elevate our souls to another realm!