I attended a live music concert today at a special venue in Berlin - Waldbühne. It is an open-air amphitheatre located in the middle of a forest in the west of the city. Pianist Ludovico Einaudi was the performer and I have never had such an experience before. The place is almost an hour’s distance from mine in Friedrichshain, you take an S-Bahn train and get off at a station outside the ring.
Yesterday, when I got off at the Pichelsberg station, naturally there were a lot of people walking towards the venue, which is almost a kilometre away. The weather was slightly windy, it rained sometimes as if greeting us humans to the world of the forest. I was with a friend and we climbed down the stairs and took our seats. The amphitheatre was humongous, similar to those that I had known from the Roman stories. Seats were lined up across the expanse of the half-conical fulcrum structure, with a few placed right in front of the stage. The stage was a large block of concrete, seemingly made up of smaller blocks that gave it a brutalist look.
Einaudi entered from the small door in the middle of the stage followed by a loud cheer from the audience. I love listening to live music. I have a few choices with the size of the performance, and at times of the music, but otherwise, I’m almost open to anything. My experience with classical piano performances was a mixed one. I had fallen in love with a Schubert score I had heard in the English version of the Danish movie Druk - Fantasia in F Minor. I also wrote about it previously. On the other hand, I did not enjoy one live performance I had attended in Treptower Park - it felt too abstract for me. So this concert was also an experiment for me in a way, only that the venue had added a lot of bonus points already.
The performance was magical, Einaudi’s scores were a complete package. At times, his piano was also cradled by a companion violin and cello. And again, the venue added a lot to the entire experience. It was colder than usual, I felt. But it wasn’t a surprise because we were in the middle of a forest and I should have come more prepared. As the music played, my eyes wandered to the audience, looking at people from a distance, enjoying themselves. A few leaned their heads on the shoulders of the one sitting beside them, some pulled over a large blanket, covering three at a time. Some lit up a smoke and puffed into the open air. I watched all of this while listening to the piano and occasionally closed my eyes to take it all in.
I decided that I wanted to write about this when I was home but wasn’t sure if I’ll still be motivated once I leave. At Waldbühne, listening to the piano playing, I realised how meditative listening to live music is. And this wasn’t the first time I felt this. Music, and especially live music, has had a unique place in me, for since I had attended my first concert, I could never forget the ecstatic feeling that rushed through me. It had ironically calmed me down.
I have always enjoyed watching recordings of live performances, I rather prefer them over the traditionally recorded sessions. I believe live music has the power to bring people closer for a moment and glide them through time in harmony. The collective celebration of music (out of all forms of art) has been one of the greatest bearers of joy for me. Have you noticed yourself and the people around you when you are at a concert? You are experiencing almost the same levels of happiness, excitement, and longing. I am amazed at how powerful this is, in a world divided over petty topics.
While listening to Einuadi’s piano, I also missed home and my people. There was warmth around the venue, even when the forest winds were cold, the music was warming us up. I have watched several videos of random concerts, people performing on the streets, and people randomly jamming in public transport, enjoying the music. There is so much happiness around the world, and music has the potential to bring it out in the open. After the concert ended, we stopped at a square that remains busy until late in the night. Near the exit of the train station, in the middle of the square, some people had gathered around a musician playing popular songs on his guitar. Everyone sang along, we enjoyed watching them. The police were alert, but did not interfere. The sing-along continue for about half an hour and then everyone left for their homes. Quite a peaceful night!
I love watching people enjoy music. For a short duration, everyone is on the same page. Maybe we should listen to live music more often. Maybe we should come together for no reason and enjoy the art, there will be lesser worries and more happiness around.