May 25th, 2011

(no subject)

trillian_stars and I went to the orchestra last night to hear/see Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms" and Beethoven's 9th -- a crowd pleaser to be sure and an old war horse of the Philadelphia Orchestra. They recorded it at least as late as 2009 with Ricardo Muti, and then again with Christoph Eschenbach last year - so I'm imagining they could play it in their sleep.

There was a pre-event-event at the Kimmel Center where members of the orchestra were strolling about chatting people up. We met Richard Harlow, the cellist who sits right in front of us. The Stravinsky was very nice, a dark and moody piece in three movements which my hoi polloi peasant brain thought very much like something that would have served as a soundtrack for The Omen.

The audience leapt to their collective feet at the end of Ode to Joy which was expected, and you kind of have to -- the music propels you up in it's final minutes. We applauded grandly, the guy sitting next to us, who had come because he's a huge fan of A Clockwork Orange said to me "It's nothing like listening to the CD!" -- and that's true. Everything's magnified when you sit there seeing it -- the experience isn't the same at all. (You can read about us going to see Beethoven's 8th, one of our first orchestra concerts, and discovering that for the first time here.)

I'd say more about the concert but Tom Purdom has a brilliant review right here. He ends on this note:

I heard the Ninth for the first time when I was in my mid-20s, in a Philadelphia Orchestra performance probably conducted by Eugene Ormandy. The native Philadelphians I knew liked to sneer at Ormandy, assuring me that his Ninth was a minor league effort compared to the Ninths of Stokowski or Furtwängler. To someone like me, who had come to Philadelphia at 18 from environments that lacked such wonders, such complaints seemed frivolously irrelevant.

... The Philadelphia Orchestra is the only institution in Philadelphia that can regularly perform Beethoven’s final symphony and all the other works— including modern creations such as the John Adams Harmoniliehre— that require a large professional orchestra. A city that doesn’t hear Beethoven’s Ninth every year or two has surrendered one of the major reasons many of us chose to live here in the first place. And a piece of its soul, too.♦

Which sums up my feelings about the orchestra far more eloquently than I could. One of the reasons that I live here is because we can do things like this and my soul is the better for it, not because I have a great understanding of music (which I don't), but because it represents the great history of cultural heritage, the best things that we as a race of beings on this planet have striven for, accomplished, and preserved. Somewhere not too far from you there's an orchestra, or an opera or a ballet or a theater company that needs you in its audience -- even (and perhaps especially) if it's a bunch of high school kids, -- and you need to be in front of them feeding that bit of your soul.

Get yourself some tickets today.

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  • Current Music
    Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms