Friday, 5 April 2013

What a performance!

Last night we went to a concert at the Centro Cultural novacaixagalicia, here in Vigo. I still find it hard to reconcile a cultural centre and the banks but no-one here seems to find the connection strange. Maybe they endowed these centres before they became grasping institutes who seem to have made off with people’s money. 

Anyway, a friend had told us that there was a concert going on: a piano concerto by Tchaikovsky, an old favourite piece of ours, and a symphony by Hans Rott, someone we had never heard of. It seemed like a good idea so we set about getting ourselves tickets by going onto the website of the Centro Cultural. This worked fine; we selected our seats, rather too close to the front but when you book last minute, in our case the night before the concert, you have to take what comes. We printed our receipt but were a little unsure how to go about getting the tickets themselves. And the website clearly said that you needed to print the tickets before you could get onto the auditorium. 

Maybe we should have read the pages of gumph on the website but we gave up on that and arrived in what felt like plenty of time at the Centro Cultural so that we could go to the booking office and check up what to do. The booking office, for some strange reason, only opens about an hour before the concert is due to start. So any poor soul who doesn’t have a computer and therefore can’t do an online booking has to take pot luck and hope that there are tickets left. 

So, we arrived at the venue, went to the booking office and found a rather long queue. There was a lackey in uniform hanging around, doing little more than greeting friends in the queue and kissing cheeks and so on. I approached him, showed him our printed receipt and asked how we should go about getting the tickets printed. There’s the queue, he told us and wandered off. We grudgingly accepted this as a fait accompli. Fairly typical, we thought, that this smart venue would have a website but then expect you to queue along with those who haven’t booked in advance. In similar situations in the UK, at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, for example, they have a separate, faster-moving queue for simple collection of tickets. 

As the queue moved up, I spotted two machines and realised that they said something about collecting tickets. No instructions though! Could we print our tickets on one of these machines? My suspicions were confirmed when I saw someone do just that. So I asked this person if they could help. Easy-peasy! Swipe the card you used to book your tickets, the machine reads your details and prints your tickets. 

Two questions: why were there no clear instructions pointing out the machines and how to use them? And why did the cheek-kissing lackey not tell us that we could print our tickets that way? 

Maybe he didn’t know. Perhaps he’s just dressed up to look official but that’s all. 

Whatever the answer to these problems, we thoroughly enjoyed the concert. The Chaikovski (doesn’t the Spanish spelling look odd?) was excellent. The pianist, Nicolai Lugansky, gave us a bit of Rachmaninov as an encore. And the unknown Mr Rott was very acceptable, with some good bits. Well worth standing in a queue for. 

Afterwards we went out for a glass or two of wine and some nibbles with friends and friends of friends. All good stuff. We’ll probably do a repeat performance in a couple of weeks’ time.

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