I made my first trip to Wigmore Hall in London in 1976, to see an early-music rendition of Handel's Messiah. God only knows why, but I insisted on taking the 12-year-old. He agreed to go quietly on condition that he could take a book. This made perfect sense to me, so he settled into Ray Bradbury while I settled into about the best Messiah I' ve ever heard. At the interval, he raised his head from the printed page and said, "you know, this is pretty good music."
You better believe it, kid. The performance was fine in itself, but Wigmore Hall--I declare, Wigmore Hall is the single most listenable music venue I've ever set foot in.
Mrs. Buce would agree. She says she used to hope that when death came to take her, he would find her peacefully asleep in her own bed. One trip to my favorite venue was enough to convince her to revise her opinion: she now hopes that the inevitable will descend during a Wigmore Hall Sunday morning.
We've been to three performances there in the past two weeks--we were schedule for four but the fourth was cancelled when the performer got sick. And it never fails. To my untutored ear, the acoustics are impeccable. It's a small house and every seat is a good seat (I've tried a lot). And, not least, the audience: unlike the opera, there is nobody in this house for show. These are the true music lovers. They're modest dressers--lots of pullover cardigans and zippered jacket. Some of them come with scores. There are always a few in wheelchairs. I wonder how many (okay, not the wheelchairs) arrive by bicycle. My guess is that you probably have more semi-pro musicians, more middle school music teachers than any other audience on earth.
There's something on here virtually every night, but Sunday mornings are the best: tickets cost a crummy 12 pounds and they throw in a glass of sherry (not great sherry, but nobody said you had to drink it). I'm sorry I'm leaving and won't be able to go again soon. And as I think of it, Wigmore Hall just might be the reason we came to London in the first place.