I had been really looking forward to seeing the London Philharmonic Orchestra here and it was a huge let-down. I should have known better when the tickets were so cheap. I even asked the woman on the phone why it was so inexpensive to see a symphony in the best seats and she laughed and assured me that it was top notch. I paid only about 150 Pounds for 3 seats in the best box over-looking the violins. She had suggested that specific box for the Mozart symphony. I would not get one ticket for that price in Japan but I trusted the woman because she had been very friendly and helpful.
Walking into that place was shocking. It was a warm evening in March so there were crowds of people everywhere. It seemed like we were walking into a cheesy multiplex cinema within a low-grade shopping mall with throngs of people. There were people sitting all over the floors with notebooks/ laptops in order to get free wifi, I assume. That made it seem like an airport terminal.
The people attending the symphony were dressed for picnics in the park. Not at all a classy crowd. Jeans and T-shirts are okay so if you want a cheap night out and then be able to say that you saw the symphony when you were in London then this is the place for you. You can also drink from plastic cups during the intermission and munch on potato chips/crisps from a bag.
During the symphony, we heard dishes crash in the distance. The sound was muffled but it was still there. My friends and I looked at each other and almost started laughing out loud. Shortly after that, we heard laughing from the outside as well. We heard outbursts of laughter three times. Perhaps the ushers hang out just beyond the doors? Or there is a catering service of some sort that has people hustling trays of food back there. Maybe for the mall-like food court?
It was a pretty disappointing evening symphony-wise but my friends and I had fun with every surprise. If you are used to world-class venues with world-class symphonies then you should skip seeing the LPO at Festival Hall. I am hoping that the London Symphony Orchestra has a better place to perform. This does not come close to where the Chicago Symphony can be seen. It cannot compare to the Warsaw Symphony in Poland. Smetana Hall in Prague would also put this place to shame. Even the Hyogo PAC Orchestra in Nishinomiya, Japan would embarrass this poor excuse of a performing arts center.
There are many other venues around the world much better than Royal Festival Hall so if you actually know something about them, do not even bother going here unless you know what to expect.
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