Mozart on the stairs

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November 14, 2012 by anelim

Yesterday some of my colleagues and I went to a free lunchtime concert at the Berlin Philharmony. The concerts take place at 1pm every Tuesday in the magnificent foyer of the Kamermusiksaal, a lovely concert hall about which you can read a bit more tomorrow (if you have the patience to read a long overdue and grammatically offensive German-language post!). If you are in Berlin, click here to see the programme.

Kammermusiksaal (Photo: Idle Ethnographer 2012)

The performers were as amazing as they were young. Miguel Colom, Yoon Jung Yang (violins), Olga Gonzales Cardaba (viola) and Fernando Arias (cello) are still students, have been friends since childhood and play as Cuarteto Albor since 2009. They played two Mozart pieces: String quartet in G major KV 80 (1770):

and Clarinet quintet in A major, KV 581 (1789):

It was also interesting to see how so many of the issues we study intersected within the same public space: un/paid work, the labour market, generations, age, family, and the human lifecourse issues that we study. A group of young musicians, all in the beginning of their careers as performers of classical music, were entertaining a colourful crowd in a large European capital city. Around them – the people at work – were at least 250 (if not more!) people at leisure in the middle of a working day. In the centre, about 100 chairs were occupied mainly by elderly or disabled listeners. The huge majority of them were ladies. There were also quite a few people of all ages on wheelchairs. The second third of the crowd were workers or university students on their lunchtime break. I imagined how many of them left their offices, hopped on the metro or walked over from nearby offices, sandwich bag in hand, to spend an hour-and-a-half long lunch listening to music. And, unusually for classical music concerts, there were large numbers of young families or single grand/parents with kids of all ages, including very small babies (most of whom seemed to enjoy the music). Signs kindly asked visitors to leave the seats for those unable to stand. Those not sitting on the chairs were either stood around the stage, or sat on the stairs or the floor (some seasoned free-concert-goers had brought foldable festival chairs and coffee flasks). I’m sure much can be said about this, but luckily all theories concerning work and lifecourse slipped out of my mind to give way to the music 😉 Perhaps music is what a sociologist needs to switch off. I’d like to go to more of these concerts.

Kammermusiksaal, (Photo: Idle Ethnographer 2012)

P.S. Only after the concert did I realise that the first piece we heard today was written by a 14-year-old Mozart. What wasters of time we all are.

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