Aurora Orchestra live at Kings Cross

PUBLISHED: 16:37 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:37 08 September 2020

Aurora Orchestra played Beethoven's 7th symphony under the Handyside Canopy in Kings Cross on September 7

Aurora Orchestra played Beethoven's 7th symphony under the Handyside Canopy in Kings Cross on September 7

MSJ Photography

Playing Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony from memory marked an uplifting and welcome return to live ticketed orchestra playing

Aurora Orchestra played Beethoven's 7th symphony under the Handyside Canopy in Kings Cross on September 7Aurora Orchestra played Beethoven's 7th symphony under the Handyside Canopy in Kings Cross on September 7

Given the choice between broadcasting live to the nation from an empty Albert Hall and the wild applause of 150 near-tearful music lovers outside King’s Cross Waitrose, its possible that Aurora Orchestra would take the latter.

Luckily they don’t have to pick - because this week sees them playing both a BBC Prom and two socially distanced live gigs under the Handyside Canopy as part of their residency at Kings Place.

Their impassioned rendition of Beethoven’s rumbustious Seventh symphony - with all the more fire in their bellies after six frustrating months of lockdown - was a poignant tonic for our times.

Judging by the standing ovation, an audience who had braved the trip into central London hungry for live music, weren’t disappointed - we clapped until our arms ached.

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Crouch End conductor Nicholas Collon bounced, nay almost jived, on the podium, and most of his players performed on their feet, straining for their next entry in a piece which gallops along at a ferocious pace so 50 minutes passed in a blink.

Late night shoppers stopped to join this charmed circle, a joint enterprise between musicians and audience, which felt almost an act of defiance against all those months of sickness and fear.

Playing from memory allowed us to see the pleasure etched on the players’ faces at having stepped out of the Zoom squares and into the light.

Throughout the ages, playhouses have been closed due to war, plague and puritanism.

But the energy of this young ensemble reminds us that you can’t keep a good orchestra down as a piece first performed more than 200 years ago for wounded war veterans once again moved and uplifted. Bravo.

4/5 stars


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