Today we visited the Royal Albert Hall. When we arrived, we learned that we would have to wait a while before we could go on the tour so we took the opportunity to visit Kensington Gardens. Directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall is the Albert Memorial. This huge, impressive and very expensive memorial was installed by Queen Victorian in memory of her husband, Prince Albert.
All that glitters IS gold in this case!
An Indian Ring-Neck Parrot - not sure what they were doing in Kensington Gardens!
The Peter Pan Statue
Birds in The Long Water in Kensington Gardens
A cormorant drying its wings
The Royal Albert Hall
The tour was most interesting and we were taken to some areas not usually open to the public. The Hall was built largely by public subscription (because Queen Victoria had spent SO much money on the Albert Memorial!) and even today many of the seats are still in private hands. Their owners can attend about 60% of the events for free!
This is where all the lighting is controlled. Preparations for an afternoon concert were underway.
Part of the second-largest organ in the UK. (The largest is in Liverpool Cathedral).
When the Queen visits the Royal Albert Hall, she uses this room.
The land in the area of the Royal Albert Hall was used for the Great Exhibition of 1851. After the exhibition, it was decided to make the area a precinct for the Arts. Impressive buildings were built, including the Royal Albert Hall and...
The Royal College of Organists was housed here from 1903-1981 and...
...The Royal College of Music and...
...The Victoria and Albert Museum (courtyard).
Detail of above building
This and the two photos below show the rooms (which William Morris had a hand in designing) where the cafe is now located. Very impressive!
A statue of St.Paul dating about 1570 from North Germany
St.Paul's rather nifty cuff link.
The Raising of Lazarus dated 1516-1522 from the Lower Rhine. Note the people in the background recoiling from the stench (Lazarus had been dead for four days!)
St.Barbara (about 1520 from Germany)
An earthenware box inlaid with enamel and gold (Japan, 1905-1910)
Samurai armour from about 1860
The elephant dates from about 1660
This huge choir screen came from 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands and dates from about 1600.
This crozier came from Italy (probably Venice) and was made about 1370.
St.Margaret the Virgin from France about 1530. She is depicted with a dragon because her legend tells that when she was swallowed by Satan (in the form of a dragon) the cross she was carrying irritated his innards and so she escaped!
Chalice from Italy, about 1475, silver, partially gilt, and enamel.
Detail of above
We were amazed at the beauty and craftsmanship of so many of the objects in the Victoria and Albert Museum. We only had a couple of hours but could have stayed for a week and still not seen everything. It's worth visiting just to see the building. There was an exhibition "Opus Anglicanum" (literally "work of the English"). This is English embroidery from the 12th to 14th century. Again, the work involved and the quality of the products were simply astonishing. Photography was not permitted in the exhibition but I bought a book which includes photos of most of the exhibits.
After dinner at the Rocca Restaurant in South Kensington, we returned to the Royal Albert Hall for a performance of Handel's "Messiah". The musicians included The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,The Goldsmiths Choral Union, The English Concert Chorus and The Highgate Choral Society all conducted by Brian Wright. The soloists were Rebecca Evans (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Timothy Robinson (tenor) and Benedict Nelson (bass). It was a very enjoyable concert. At the beginning of interval, a serious argument broke about between to "gentlemen" sitting near us. They almost came to blows (literally). It was a bit unnerving and certainly not one expects at a performance of the Messiah! We left to get ice creams. When we returned, one of them had moved away. The concert was excellent. In England, it is still the custom to stand for the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus. Legend has it that this tradition arose because King George II supposedly stood up during a performance (and so everyone else had to). There is no evidence to support this (eg newspaper reports of his attendance) and the first recorded mention of the tradition is not until 37 years later! In Australia, the tradition is now largely frowned upon (which is a pity because it's quite fun and a great leg stretch!).
The choir and orchestra at the conclusion of the concert. You can view what is, in my opinion, the best recording of The Messiah on YouTube. It goes for 136 minutes so allow plenty of time!