Kensington Palace is another of those attractions that we thought might be too touristy for us, but we decided to check it out today, and we’re glad we did. The museum part of the palace (not the part where the royals live) is open to the public and features two exhibits in honor of Queen Victoria and celebrating the 200th anniversary of her birth.
The museum is very well organized and not overwhelming. Many of the exhibits in the rooms where Victoria spent her childhood are just delightful, especially the moving diorama showing a royal production of I Puritani. The exhibit describing her life as queen was informative, helping fill in some of the gaps in the PBS series. We also enjoyed the King’s State Apartments with exhibits about King George II and Queen Caroline and the Diana: Designing for a Princess exhibit.
We left the Palace and took a bus (yes, one of those double decker buses, and we sat in the top level) to Piccadilly for a lunchtime concert at St. James’s Church. We found on our last trip to London that there are several lunchtime concert series and we chose a performance we thought would be interesting. The program was Grand Duo, an arrangement by Friedrich Hermann after Beethoven’s Septet Op. 20. It was a duet for piano and viola, one of the few works meant for a virtuoso viola player. The church was designed by Christopher Wren, and admiring it while listening to fine music is a nice way to spend an hour at lunchtime.
Our evening was one I had looked forward to for a long time. We have wanted to see Hamilton ever since it opened in New York, but tickets are extremely expensive and hard to get. There’s a lottery for cheap tickets, and we’ve been entering it daily, but we never win. When we decided to take this trip, we thought we might as well see it on the other side of the pond. I’ve listened to the cast recording several times and I’ve seen many clips of scenes on YouTube, so I was very familiar with the show, but seeing it performed live is breathtaking (and no, they didn’t all perform with English accents). Every aspect of the show, from music and lyrics to set, staging, and choreography is brilliant. We’ll probably continue to try to get cheap tickets in New York to see it again.
This performance was our London finale, because tomorrow we head home.