Such a privilege - working at the Hall 1963 - 1976

Helen B-Smith

Lots of memories - here are some of the special ones:

Rostropovich playing Dvorak's Cello concerto with the Orchestra of the USSR in August 1968.  He was in tears, because that day Czechoslovakia had been invaded by the Soviet Army (Dvorak was Czech). Hecklers tried to interrupt the concert, and the front row of prommers turned round and said in a chorus, "shush".  The hecklers were escorted out of the Gallery and the performance continued. The next day, the billboard outside the main entrance for the forthcoming tour of the Red Army Choir, had the words "Red Army now appearing in Prague"  painted across it. So sad, and part of history, like so many events at the Hall.

For the RAH Centenary, there was a big concert, programme including The Prince Consort's overture, a pretty unremarkable piece.  There was a reception, and I escorted Prime Minister, Edward Heath, to the Gallery.  In the small talk one has on these occasions, he said "I learnt my repertoire at the Proms", and of course, so did I. I prommed for many years, including during my first pregnancy, my GP having said what you do normally you can carry on, and I did.  In those days it was hard to continue working with a small baby and that small baby now has her own children, who love music of all kinds.

I remember the first acoustic domes coming from Yorkshire Fibreglass down the M1 after 7pm as they were wide loads. Ken Shearer, the acoustic engineer, was a friend of mine.  He used to joke with me that when on the phone, he could tell if I had had my hair cut because the acoutics would change when short! 

It was a great privilege to work at the Hall and I have thousands of memories!

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