A Night to Remember
I can hardly believe that our time in Vienna is already coming to a close. Dan and I were happy to find out that the annual Sommernachtskonzert (Summer Night Concert) was going to take place during our last week in town. This is a free outdoor concert featuring the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Plus, it’s set on the spectacular grounds of Schönbrunn Palace. This year’s concert was also going to include music from Star Wars.
On Tuesday evening we arrived at the palace more than two hours early, knowing the event would attract a crowd of many thousands. The weather was wonderful, and the people-watching was even better. We strolled past a few people sporting Star Wars costumes; others were decked out in their Sunday best; and many, like us, wore casual summer clothes. Settling on a blanket, we waited for the sun to drop and the concert to begin.
When the music opened, I quickly realized that this was the beginning of one of the greatest events I had ever attended. And for free! Being in the presence of musicians at the top of their game gave me the sense of bearing witness to an Olympic performance. Two large video screens stood at each side of the stage; they gave the audience an intimate view of the musicians' rapt facial expressions and masterful command of their instruments. The nuanced sounds of each song drew me in so fully that, at one point, I felt as if I had tipped into another dimension of space and time.
I was especially moved by the piano solo of Yefim Bronfman, who was introduced as one of the greatest living musicians. The Star Wars songs were also powerful. As these globally recognized notes stirred, the otherwise calm crowd bopped along enthusiastically. Laser lights contributed to an otherworldly ambiance. Blue, green, yellow, red, and gold beams danced in perfect timing to the music.
The whole event reawakened my child self: a deeply sensitive little girl who dreamed of becoming a professional pianist. While we had been waiting for the concert to begin, a video clip showed a musician talking about how classical music connects people through the universal language of feelings. At nine years old I knew this in my bones–this was largely why I loved piano music so much. Emotional and spiritual aliveness exist beneath words. As an adult, I sometimes forget this truth. But on Tuesday night, I remembered.
As the concert drew to a close, my hands ached from clapping and my limbs were exhausted with delight. Just before Dan and I left, a young woman approached to show us a photo she had snapped that happened to include us watching the finale. Later she sent me the photo, and I'm happy to share it with you.
Danke schön, Wien!