Friday, February 03, 2006

Tom/Tom Go to the Symphony

As a Kennedy Center Volunteer, Dad scored some free tickets to the world premiere of Roberto Sierra's "Missa Latina" performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, and two soloists. I had not been to a symphony performance in quite some time, and this was a wonderful evening to ease back into the orchestral milieu. Yes, it was a traditional orchestral mass. But it was peppered throughout with timbales, maracas, and bongos. The "Kyrie" was set to a rhumba beat! My favorite line from the review: "Indeed, the 'Sanctus' could almost be turned into a pop song."

As enjoyable as the performance was, it was even nicer to see Dad out and about. He bumped into the woman who trained him as a Volunteer, who was overjoyed to see him. For a while, it was as if all the events of last year hadn't taken place. Aleluia!


Hugh said...

Thanks for supporting your local symphony orchestra. This puts me in mind of something that I ask you and other commenters: Is the problem with going to the symphony not that they play too much contemporary music, but that they play too little?

For example, which of these blurbs is more attractive to you (i.e. ceteris paribus, which of these concerts would you like to attend more)?

Tonight at the Symphony: Nice Traditional works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms.


Tonight at the Symphony: Cool New Stuff by Sierra, Higdon, and Adams.

I can't make the blurbs of exactly equal weight, but I hope that you get the drift.

tommyspoon said...

Well, judging from what I heard last night I'll take the contemporary stuff. Now if the old stuff was going to be reinterpreted or showcased differently, that might get my attention.

Side note: I'm probably going to go out and get some Sierra CDs this weekend.

One other observation from last night: I REALLY like big choral music. I can kinda take or leave the orchestra (because I just don't know enough about how it works), but I love listening to a 200-voice chorus do their thang.

Joe said...

Hugh: Personally, what would appeal to me would be a set of concerts billed as "if you like X, you'll love Y." The odds of me going to hear Brahms and Sierra are much higher than the odds of me going to hear Sierra and Higdon. (Or, oddly enough, Brahms and Beethoven.)

I'm in that camp that won't plunk down $100 to hear something by somebody I've never even heard of before. But a mixed bill is more intriguing than a traditional one.

Of course, if I'm actually your target market, you have to remember that my concept of music history is Drums - Chant - Mozart - Romantic Composers I Actually Like - Folk - Blues - Rock. Selling me on the music is a waste anyway, which is why I'm saying make it about the event.

jfl said...

Key is high quality - not chasing one "customer's" taste or another. Without modern music (living art), however, symphony halls will turn into mere museums of sound and the players into creative taxidermists. Even though I was not at all convinced by last night's Sierra work, I'll always give contemporary music a try and the benefit of doubt, because it is so necessary to the vitality -perhaps even survival- of classical music.