Monday, January 12, 2009

The Concert

I should probably mention the concert that started all of this 24-watching trouble.

A friend called and invited me to a classical music concert. I should point out here and now that I'm really not much for classical music. Honestly, when I was in school, I used to mock the "Music Appreciation" class -- you know, like you've got to learn how to appreciate music; how stupid is that? Well, fact is, I probably could have used the class. I really don't know how to appreciate classical music. I can follow a melody (when there is one), and pick out... well, if not individual instruments, I can certainly tell the difference between the strings and the woodwinds. And I generally sit there, not knowing what exactly to look at, and hope the music somehow evokes an emotional response.

Often I end up idly mentally choreographing figure skating routines to it. Hey, it beats napping.

Anyway, so, this friend invited me to a classical music concert. And (ack) it was modern classical -- which I tend to define as "the composer is still alive." I'd attended one modern classical concert before, and the only way to describe it was "cacophony." I don't really recall the name of the piece, but I imagine the subtitle was "melody is for sissies."

But I agreed to go to this particular modern classical concert because, well, basically because the soloist was Yo-Yo Ma, and I try to check out the best of anything when given the chance. And, y'know, damn good cellist. So I went.

And, honestly... it didn't suck. The main piece we were hearing was the West Coast Premiere of something called "Azul" by some dude named Osvaldo Golijov. I actually knew from the opening notes that I would be OK with this, as the music was (unlike my previous experience with modern classical) instantly identifiable as music. Had melody. Had style. Had scope. I lost it somewhere in the second movement (I always tend to lose them in the second movement) and started choreographing again. But I got back on track again in the third. And the fairly magnificent coda entitled "Shooting Stars," which, I quite imagine, is what the universe sounds like. The conductor held the silence at the end of the piece for quite some time, because you sorta needed a moment to process the music of the universe.

The audience adored it. Enthusiastic standing ovation that went on for quite some time, and they brought out the composer and the audience hooted and applauded some more. (Well, ok, they yelled "bravo" and applauded. They're not a hooting crowd.) My friend said it moved her to tears. She's hoping to get a recording.

In some ways, I almost felt like the piece was wasted on me. That my seat would have been better off in the hands (under the butt?) of someone who could appreciate everything in this music that everyone around me was falling over themselves to praise -- because that clearly wasn't me. I barely even followed two-thirds of it. But for a few moments there, I got a glimpse of what everyone else was hearing. And it was awesome.

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