The concert in Taipei, which is sponsored by UBS, takes place in an enormous hall with a pagoda style roof, and in front of not only the audience seated inside, but a few thousand others watching a simultaneous relay to the screens outside. And if you ever wondered the extent to which the LSO enjoys celebrity status on tour, this is it. The concert goes well, the Berlioz reaching new levels of fantasy and breadth, and the soloist, Lang Lang playing another fluent and sparkling Mozart concerto. He’s a great communicator, and really seems to enjoy the rapport with Harding and the orchestra. After the Berlioz we play Star Wars. And as this is possibly the very last time Maurice will play the famous Title Theme, there is a real sense of occasion about it. The roar of the audience as we finish is one of the reasons I enjoy this life so much, and we make our way off stage, and up to the balcony of the concert hall overlooking the square, which is packed with people, and they cheer as we wave.
The following day is a must for doing the Taipei 101 Tower, (the tallest building on Earth), and by taking the worlds fastest lift, we reach the top in just 37 seconds. That’s the best part of 509 metres! Wow. Nice view from up here, I must say….and it seems I’m not the only one to feel a bit dizzy, as there is discernable movement up here. There would be a lot more, were it not for the stabilising effect of a huge steel ball suspended by cables, and bolted into the structure of the tower. It does have a name, but at the time of writing this, it escapes my memory, I’m afraid.
Another splendid concert; Beethoven 9 with the impressive National Chorus of Taiwan, and Frank Peter Zimmermann performing Mozart’s D major violin concerto. And again with this flash encore…the audience warms up after this…and we go out to the balcony, and this time it’s a sea of umbrellas cheering, because of the rain.
The rest of the evening is short, because we have to leave at 5am for Malaysia. This is a bit of a drag, but the entire orchestra manages to get up nonetheless.
Really, the praise has to go to Miriam and Sue, who take care of all the things that would otherwise be overlooked, like unpaid room bills, and organising 80 or so people on and off coaches all over the place. That’s not the half of it, but I thought they deserved a mention!
I’m now looking out of the bus window at the twin Petronas towers, the impressive feature of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. That is to be our next port of call, and I’m looking forward to having a wander round the roadside markets where they do street food, and later on, there’s a plan to find the best curry place in the universe, which is supposed to be here, according to a reliable source.