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Symphony by the Sea

A unique concert in the gardens of Belmond Reid’s Palace in Madeira brought the hotel’s heritage to life. This extraordinary performance by soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra marked the start of a series entitled ‘Exceptional Music in Exceptional Locations’ at Belmond destinations worldwide.

THE VERDANT GARDENS of Belmond Reid’s Palace echo to a symphony of sounds. The chorus of songbirds, the swish of palm leaves rustling in the breeze, the rhythmic pounding of Atlantic waves on the shore below...

But on the evening of 7 December, the hotel resonated with a whole new sound as a world-class chamber ensemble from the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) performed beneath the subtropical trees. This one-off occasion marked the launch of an exciting new partnership between Belmond and one of the globe’s finest international orchestras.

TELLING STORIES THROUGH MUSIC

The event whisked guests back in time, celebrating the hotel’s history of symphonic excellence. Over the years, countless musical gatherings have been held beneath its crystal chandeliers or on its stylish panoramic sea terrace.

As dusk falls, soloists from the orchestra performed the masterly Clarinet Quintet composed by Brahms in 1891, the same year that the hotel first opened its doors. It complemented the lush romanticism of Portuguese composer Jose Vianna da Motta’s String Quartet in E flat major—his warm style inflected with the folk flavours of his homeland.

“The Brahms Clarinet Quintet is a piece I have loved since I was very young,” says lead clarinettist Thomas Watmough. “The slow movement is the real beating heart of the piece. There have been times when the emotional wrench of its music has almost been enough to stop me playing. I’m hugely looking forward to performing it.”

CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY, PAST AND PRESENT

Vianna da Motta, who stayed at Belmond Reid’s Palace in 1895 and in 1939, is just one of many performers and composers associated with the hotel. Pianist Sérgio Soares de Varella-Cid, ‘Queen of Fado’ Amália Rodrigues, composer Benjamin Britten and singers from Sandie Shaw to Kiri Te Kanawa have all added to its musical heritage. Famously, in 1924, the writer George Bernard Shaw learned to tango to the strains of the hotel orchestra, crediting his tutor with being “the only man who ever taught me anything.”

Both Belmond Reid’s Palace and Madeira itself have a strong affinity with classical and contemporary sounds. Fado, jazz and orchestral performances feature regularly at the hotel’s bar and dining room. The island also hosts annual events, including an organ festival and a series of concerts held in some of Madeira’s most beautiful chapels.

The concert heralded ‘Exceptional Music in Exceptional Locations’, a series of events staged in some of the most extraordinary destinations throughout the Belmond world. Drawing on the themes of travel, nature and heritage, the programme for each performance is carefully chosen to shed light on its surroundings. As Timothy Walker, the orchestra’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director elaborates: “Music can tell powerful stories of history, culture and wonder and we are excited to bring to life Belmond’s iconic hotels and trains with specially curated performances. We look forward to telling our story together to audiences across the globe.”

Further performances are planned at the awe-inspiring setting of Belmond Sanctuary Lodge at the gates of Peru’s Machu Picchu citadel, and at Belmond Hotel das Cataratas overlooking Brazil’s Iguassu Falls.

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Belmond Reid's Palace

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