Symphony Ticket

Symphony Ticket

Click on ticket or on any picture to enlarge.

For those of you who thought I had no culture, you are sadly mistaken. During my trip to Maryland in early December of 2008 I had the privilege of going to the world famous ‘John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ in Washington, D.C. The ‘National Symphony Orchestra’ performed on Friday the 5th of December and I had a ticket.

My parents, who are full of culture and class bought me a ticket to see Itzhak Perlman, the most prolific and influential violinist of our times. His love and desire to please the audience is noticable from the start. He had polio at age four and lost the use of his legs, it is painfully obvious watching him walk to the stage and climb the steps. He uses special walking sticks or canes to manipulate himself across the floor and awkwardly climb the steps on the stage.

As the orchestra tuned up so every instrument was in perfect concert pitch, I could not help but notice I was one of the youngest people there. I’m 55 years old, but the preponderance of people were much older than myself showing a generational difference. Jimi Hendrix probably was not even alive when these folks started vibing to the big three!

A symphony is way more organized and polite than a rock concert. During a symphony it is not acceptable or courteous to cheer, clap, leave your cell phone on, take pictures or make noise until the piece ends. Basically it is a well adorned, comfortable small concert hall designed acoustically to let the music ring true. Remember, they do not use Marshall 100 watt heads with 4 stacks of speakers. There is very little amplification due to the amount of instruments playing at one time. Making enough true sounds to fill the hall with plenty of sound, no hearing loss either.

Objectively speaking, the amount of practice time must be astronomical. Other than the obvious, which is to be invited to play in the National Symphony Orchestra by playing at the highest level possible, there is another facet of the event that really blew my mind. The fact that when the conductor raises his baton in the direction of 15 violins and they all start to play at exactly the same time is another testimonial of how much effort is put into a symphonic experience. But add the other instruments in and you got something cooking. You don’t have to like the music to appreciate the effort and genius.

The experience was a good one for me. It had a similar effect on me that listening to the classical music station on the radio at bedtime has. Relaxing, mellow and not distractive. Generally, at least at night the classical music is not distracting to me like uh, lets say Stevie Ray Vaughan and I can there fore fall asleep fast. During the concert I did not fall asleep, but I went into a daze until the intermission, then relapsed into my daze when the performance reconviened . This is not meant to be disrespectful but more the way I listen to this type of music. Did I miss anything? Absolutely not. I heard every note played and was able to focus in on the instrumental changes and different mixtures of instruments blending together. A pretty amazing vibe to hear all of this precision occur at once. While I was not in a daze I did notice how much bravado the violins and other stringed instrument players use. Lots.

The only thing that concerned me is where is the guitar player? I have not really researched it, but why not have a guitar or two? Probably because the guitar player always steals the show! Is it in our genes, is it environmental or are we hard-wired for a particular music? There must be an answer. I had a lot of exposure to classical music as a kid. If you read my blogs than you know I played classical guitar for 4 years from a student of Andres Segovia. I even saw Segovia in person several times with my dad. You know my story, the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix in about 1966 was the last time I played my classical guitar. I still have it, it is a 1954 Gibson classical nylon string guitar.

Guitar Players Center was lucky to go to a symphony. I still say Hendrix is the greatest ever. The symphonic music is not my type of music, it is however the type of music millions of people love and listen to over and over. We are talking music composed several hundred years ago, which is a statement on it’s popularity and standing the test of time. I’m a blues man, the blues just hit the right notes with me. Who knows or cares why? I suggest you listen to what you enjoy. Please give me your 2 cents worth or even better, if you are a member of Stumble, than please Stumble and review this article.

The playbill guide is as follows. Just click the picture you want to enlarge.

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Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky Don’t Vibe Like Hendrix..

8 Responses to Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky Don’t Vibe Like Hendrix..

  1. My experience with classical music was the opposite of yours. When I started getting really into classical guitar during undergrad, I couldn’t put it down. this was coming from the kid in high school who only wanted to play Black Sabbath and Metallica.

    You’ll just need to go catch a sweet guitar concerto to see a guitarist on stage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWDMwirWZVE).

    I really have gotten more and more into symphonic music in the past four years. But I hate the fact that orchestras largely neglected the 20th century. There’s SO much great and truly exciting music from Composers like Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff and even Schoenberg.

    I don’t have the eyes glaze over relaxing experience too much anymore, but I try to be really involved in the performance. I also inadvertently end up analyzing form and phrase and musicality things and sometimes harmonic progressions. Check out this video from a Conductor:
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html
    He does a great job of explaining a piece so the audience gets really involved in it and really enjoys it. Now if only that sort of thing could happen before orchestral concerts. It’s been my experience that pre-concert talks are always dry and…well, they suck. It’s unfortunate really because that’s a time when a good lecturer could take the audience and make them love a piece that’s going to be performed.

    -CD

  2. To answer your question, Danny, guitars are too soft to include in an classical orchestra (and those guys composed before electronic music). So there are sonatas and solo pieces and chamber music with guitars but not in full orchestra ensembles

  3. Beautiful and thoughtful piece! As a lover of all types of music, especially baroque era classical, it troubles me to see the aging of the classical music audience — as you keenly observed. Audiences seem to be dwindling and certainly I, too, feel like a youngster at a classical concert (which I love, of course!)Your respect and appreciation is what is important! Bravo! Encore!

  4. Chris, Sara, DJW, thanks very much, you all add valid points to this post.

  5. Danny – I know you have culture and class right down to your little pinky.. but often classical is not in our blood.. there are only a few pieces of classical music and not sure they are classical for sure..that sooth me.. but I think it’s the mental picture that I get from them..

    One is by John Barry.. from Dances with Wolves.. I visualize the great frontier..untouched.. virgin.. and it brings me to a place that I would have liked to experience..

    Another was more opera.. from Shawshank.. it brings me to a place of freedom.. the words are in Italian.. but the music does in someway envoke peace in me..

    I don’t think I could sit through an entire night of it though.. it’s okay, your tastes are what they are.. they drive you to better perform..what’s in your soul, your blood!

    As far as falling asleep with Stevie.. I am sooooo all over that! Visualization and all!

    Laugh, Dance & Sing yourself a beautiful holiday! Say hi to Mrs. Danny too!

  6. I love Stevie and all, but the days when I could fall asleep to the blues (or any vocal music for that matter) are long past. I’ve to listen to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, some modern light ambient stuff of a Doors Concerto I’ve got.

  7. I’ve been listening to some John Williams, and wondering why orchestras don’t include a Spanish guitar or two. The sound of the nylon stringed acoustic gliding from movement to movement would add another layer to the orchestral feeling in my opinion. Just look at the piece Leyenda by Isaac AlbĂ©niz done on guitar, or really any classical guitar, it’s really a beautiful thing.

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