Review: PROM 63: THE RITE BY HEART, Royal Albert Hall

Prom 63: The Rite By Heart was performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 September 2023 at 19:30.

By: Sep. 03, 2023
Review: PROM 63: THE RITE BY HEART, Royal Albert Hall
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Review: PROM 63: THE RITE BY HEART, Royal Albert Hall

“It was a historic scandal”

Prom 63: The Rite By Heart is a story of two parts, the same structure as The Rite of Spring itself. In Part One, actors and musicians come together to tell the story of how Stravinsky created The Rite of Spring. In Part Two, the Aurora Orchestra performs the Rite of Spring by memory with not a music stand in sight. 

Part One uses an incredible combination of acting, musicianship, lighting, and projections as the conductor, Nicholas Collon, narrates. Charlotte Ritchie and Karl Queensborough did a wonderful job of portraying a range of characters including Stravinsky, Nicholas Roerich, and Vaslav Nijinsky. Even though the actors did not change their accents and did not have any form of costumes to portray each character in the story, the first-person accounts spoke for themselves, weaving together to create a fascinating story.

In between scenes of dialogue, the performers would take a step back and the musicians would take to the stage, performing bits of The Rite of Spring and moving along as if they were the dancers themselves. Projections depicted circles on the blank stage, emanating in ripples from the musicians depending on who was playing at that moment. The audience was also given the opportunity to get involved, with Collon splitting the Royal Albert Hall into different sections and having them sing different notes to create chords and clap along to a range of rhythms to illustrate just how insane and complicated Stravinsky’s music is. 

If Part One was a powerful image of storytelling, then Part Two was a simply fantastic display of the talent of the Aurora Orchestra and Collon. The orchestra members were spread across the stage, many standing, allowing them to move with the rhythms they were playing. It was incredible to watch them perform with any music stands in front of them, completely giving themselves over to the music and trusting in Collon’s conducting. 

In two delightful encores, members of the orchestra went into the audience, lining the aisles and even going into the standing room section on the floor of the Hall. They performed two small sections from The Rite of Spring, with Collon quite literally conducting in a circle. One addition that could have made The Rite By Heart perfect would have been either the addition of dancers or the usage of projection to depict the dancers, but it was still breathtaking even without the choreography being displayed. 

Ultimately, Prom 63: The Rite By Heart is a brilliant way for audiences to not only gain insight into one of classical music’s most bizarre scandals but also to have the incredible opportunity to watch some fantastic musicians at work. The Aurora Orchestra, Nicholas Collon, Karl Queensborough, and Charlotte Ritchie fully deserved every second of applause. 

Prom 63: The Rite By Heart was performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 September 2023 at 19:30



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