Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Epic Story...

I know, I know…time for an update! You guys have been seeing pictures on facebook and not getting any information! That must be torturous. Ok, well here’s the grand tale of how I met Imogen Heap.

First, I have to give credit to Cameron, who encouraged me to keep up with the goings on of Royal Albert Hall, though I thought all of the events would be too expensive. So, this story starts with me milling around on the Royal Albert Hall website, looking for random good concerts. The special this past week was the Concert for CARE, a UK-based charity organization that works to establish strong economies in small villages of third-world countries. The conductors that performed during the concert were truly amazing: Patrick Doyle (Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing), Harry Gregson-Williams (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Craig Armstrong (Love Actually), Christopher Gunning (La Vie en Rose), Rachel Portman (Chocolat), Jonny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood, better known as the lead guitarist for Radiohead), John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon), John Ottoman (Valkyrie), Anne Dudley (American History X), George Fenton (Ghandi, Memphis Belle), Michael Nyman (The Piano), Dario Marianelli (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice), and David Arnold (Casino Royale, Independence Day). So, even without Imogen’s performance of “Can’t Take It In” with Gregson-Williams, this concert was already a dead-ringer. On top of this, Jil Aigrot, the voice behind the voice of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, performed “Non, Je ne regrette rien” with Gunning conducting the orchestra in the background. Talk about the best £10 I’ve ever spent.

So, after discovering this goldmine, I called one of my other theatre/concert-obsessed flatmates, we bought tickets, waited a day, and took off on the tube Monday night toward South Kensington. After we arrived at RAH and walked up four flights of stairs, we headed to our seats in the Upper Circle (aka. Nosebleed Section) where we were stopped by one of the seat attendants. She told us that not enough seats had been sold in our section and that they were moving people into the Stalls section (aka. The front-row section) below. So basically, we sat about 8 rows away from the stage for £10…can you say, “EPIC WIN”?

Since I’ve already told you about the conductors, I’ll skip going through each one and just say that they were all incredible, especially since most of these pieces I knew well from watching the films.  After Imogen performed with Gregson-Williams, she walked off of the stage right past where Elliott and I were sitting, but best of all, she turned around, came back, and sat in our section! A little bit later into the concert, we noticed that all of the performers/conductors were doing this and that they had family in friends sitting in our section. It was at this point that we realized, not only had we been upgraded to a better seat, but we had been placed in the Family and Friends Guest List section. So, we were sitting quite near Imogen Heap, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rachel Portman, and Jonny Greenwood (who was sitting exactly one row in front of us). Needless to say, we had a major freak out moment that I’m sure the people sitting around us noticed. Anyways, after the concert ended we stuck around to try and meet Imogen Heap. I was terrified to go up and say anything, especially after having lived in Nashville and knowing that famous/semi-famous people kind of aren’t fans of being attacked by their fans. But, Elliott pointed out that this wasn’t just some meeting on the street; it was an organized event and she was standing in the middle of the auditorium/hallway, completely open to all of the people attending the concert. So, after watching a few other people go talk to her and realizing that she was quite happy to meet them, I finally got up the nerve to say hello and shake her hand. Elliott got up the nerve to ask her for a picture, and well, that’s history.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


So, this week I finally started classes. After freaking out this for the past five days trying to teach my self the West Saxon dialect of Old English, I discovered that my classes might not actually be as difficult as I'd anticipated and, barring any unforeseen complications, I'm going to enjoy them immensely. That being said, we must also note that I'm only going to be in classes for about 8 weeks--including examination week. To me, that can't even be considered an entire quarter, much less a complete semester. Looks like I will get to continue exploring England, even with school going on at the same time.

These last couple weeks' adventures have been...well, amazing. First, I visited Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard and meet the Queen. Unfortunately, both of those endeavors failed. I'm apparently too short to watch the Changing of the Guard successfully and not important enough for the Queen. I did, however, tour Buckingham Palace and visit the State Rooms where the Queen receives her most important visitors. Never in my life have I seen something so opulently decorated, but still retain an exquisite amount of taste. It avoided all the faux pas of gaudiness and displayed, like the Queen, an elegance befitting of the Royal Crown. Since meeting the Queen fell through, I found another way to achieve my jollies. I watched the London Symphony Orchestra perform the original Return of the King score to a screening of the film in the front row of the stalls section in Royal Albert Hall. To make it even better, I got to meet Howard Shore. Jealous? Just wait. To top it off, I saw the 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables, one of London's most famous and beloved shows, only 10 rows away from the stage. Never fear, it doesn't end there! Lastly, I accomplished a life-long goal--visiting Platform 9 3/4. These experiences were so surreal, yet so very and completely awesome. I'm still kind of freaking out.

(These pictures are not zoomed. I repeat, ARE NOT ZOOMED)

(One of my favorite scenes--the lighting of the Beacons of Amon Dîn )

On top of all that, I've spent the last two Sunday mornings attending church at St. Paul's Cathedral. Yes, that St. Paul's. The big one with the bird lady in Mary Poppins. The Communions that I have shared there have been some of the most meaningful in my life. The grandeur of the Cathedral, despite being man-made, feels completely divine. Its beauty is beyond comprehension. When standing forward to receive Communion you face a beautiful golden, mosaic Christ, risen with arms open, waiting to accept you in His love. In this moment, it is impossible not to be shaken by the love of Jesus and His sacrifice.

It seems that this journey far from home will be profound in many ways and will continue to surprise me with its deeply touching, passionate moments--moments that give the world new color and awaken a sleepy college student into life.