I love live music.
Earlier this summer I received a phone call from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra asking me to consider subscribing to a concert series as I had in the past. As there had been no new rumors about lay-offs at work, and thinking about how much I had missed going to the symphony, I went for it (fewer concerts for about the same amount of money), and tonight was my first concert, and Opening Weekend. I waited until the last minute to find someone to go with me, because when I got the tickets, it just seemed so far away. Oops. I sent an e-mail to my friend RE on Tuesday, but never heard back from him (figuring he's on vacation and doesn't use that handy Out of Office message supplied by most e-mail software programs). Next I tried my friend Carol, but she couldn't (can't remember why), third was my other friend Carol (she thought she had to babysit her granddaughters). I then had the brainstorm to ask one of the engineers from Mexico. He's returning to Mexico in three weeks, and although he's done a lot (hell, he knows how to get downtown which is something my mother can't do although she's lived her entire life) and taken advantage of his time here in Detroit, he hadn't gotten to the symphony.
In my last two years of missing the symphony, the DSO hired a new music director (Leonard Slatkin) to replace Neeme Jarvi (who is irreplaceable in my book) and he was the conductor this evening. As is normal, we started with the national anthem. It's the most amazing thing. How many sporting events have I gone to with tens of thousands of people where everybody is too damn cool to sing the anthem? Not so at the symphony. Everybody stands (of course) and sings proudly. It really is quite moving, at least for us wusses.
After the anthem, the orchestra played Dvorak's Carnival Overture which was spectacular. That was followed by a Sibelius Violin Concerto with soloist Midori. It was fine. The woman at the end of my row, however, was quite impressed because the second it was over she was on her feet yelling Bravo and clapping madly. I have nothing against Sibelius, but he's not my favoritest composer ever. In fact, while listening to it, I was making up a list of My Favorite Composers (mostly in order) which I'm going to share with you...otherwise, that Sibelius was completely wasted. ;-)
1) Mahler - I know he's not universally beloved, but I think he's utterly brilliant. Check out his Symphony #5.
2) Shostakovich - Have you heard his Symphony #7? It's been much too long since I've heard it. I'm getting it out to rectify that problem.
3) Prokofiev - I have two words for you - Alexander Nevsky. Netflix the movie, buy the CD. It's stirring.
4) Tchaikowsky - I like bombast, percussion and, in case you couldn't tell, Russian composers, particularly late 19th Century/early 20th Century Russians.
5) Dvorak - Symphony #9 "From the New World" is special, but don't limit yourself to only that one.
6) Beethoven - Hey, look! Late 18th C / early 19th C and not Russian (yes, I know Mahler and Dvorak aren't Russian). He was my first classical music love.
7) Mozart - I know people who don't like Mozart and I can understand (to a degree), but he has written some beautiful violin concertos.
8) Haydn - I really like his so-called "London" symphonies
After the Sibelius and the intermission, we were treated to Copland's Symphony #3 which is very Copland-esque, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I figured it was a nod toward 9/11 by having an American composer as the main piece of the night.
I don't love all 20th Century music, just for record. Have you heard Messiaen or Boulez? Kill me now. When I lived in SF, I had a six concert series and the SF Symphony likes to play a 20th century piece as their first piece for every concert - at least, that's the way it seemed. Anyway, they all sucked, except for the Benjamin Britten work. I heard a Messsiaen, a Boulez - one of which was described as "repetitive and clangorous" - doesn't that make you want to run out and buy it? - a timpani concerto which was godawful and a viola concerto which wasn't much better.
That said, we were treated to an encore just like Maestro Jarvi used to do, except that Maestro Slatkin actually used a microphone to talk to us (I never could hear a word Neeme said) and he told us that he was going to continue the tradition, except that we wouldn't always get an encore (we always did with Jarvi) and we wouldn't know when we would be so treated. He said he was being humble by playing his own piece as the encore. He got the appropriate laugh and applause with that line. The piece played was called Fin and he said he wrote it when he was in Florida and saw a pod of dolphins swimming. I quite liked it.
Not only did I get to listen to great live music, I got to see Norbert who sits across the aisle from me. He said that he spent the past two years looking for me wondering if I were ever going to show up again. We were both happy to see the other person, even though we only know each other from the symphony and only talk briefly. He knows where I work and was happy to hear I was still employed. I know where he works and was also happy to hear he was still employed. All in all, it was quite a lovely day.
It's now 2:30 a.m., the bar is finally quiet and all the loud, yelling drunks should have gotten to their cars by now, so I'm going to go to bed.