I haven't been prattling on as much here on The (non)Daily Consternation because I've been working hard on making arts and music happen in the real world. It's very exciting that many of my dreams are actually becoming reality.
First, I organized a classical concert June 29 at Common Street Arts. This has come about through the ripening of a number of factors. 1) My involvement with CSA. 2) My casual discussions with my daughter's cello teacher. 3) My law partners' willingness to sponsor the event. 4) My increased familiarity with various online event calendars. 5) My ongoing discussions with Atlantic Music Festival and Daponte Quartet. And there's a whole lot more subtle discussions, conversations, and research, but suffice to say all these simmering ingredients have finally cooked themselves up into a real manifestation of musical goodness. It was a wonderful evening at the gallery, with great music, but more than a little residual stress for me. I learned a lot during this first concert experience and have ideas to make it smoother and less laborious next time.
I feel like I've realized and am at peace with the concept that, at my age, I'm never going to be the musician or be the artist. But it seems my lot in life, and where I can really be useful, given my skill-set as a lawyer and problem solver - but one who happens to have had a 4-year art education and has a BFA and a self-taught love of music and theater - is to be a patron of, advocate for, and organizer of musical events. Essentially, a friend of the arts.
To that end, my service on the Board of Directors for Common Street Arts has been very personally rewarding, and I feel I'm in for the long haul, with no real eye on any horizon for not being involved. There's so many exciting opportunities for enhancing this community and it's downtown and economy through CSA that I can't imagine not being a participant. I find it comes naturally to launch into a prolonged and passionate advocacy speech on behalf of CSA - genuine and spontaneous - reflecting to me and presumably others my sincerity (or insanity?).
Atlantic Music Festival is the other organization I have great enthusiasm about helping to become a bigger factor in Waterville. I have been helping out on a small basis with providing local information to the artistic director about venues, fill-in musician contacts, junior high and high school music directors, housing possibilities, and other "local knowledge" kinds of issues that have been difficult for AMF to sort out due to their remote headquarters in New York City. Their presence here each summer strikes me as a gift and an incredible fluke, and I would hate to see them choose to locate elsewhere because they felt unwelcome and unappreciated in Waterville.
If I can weave together the strands of CSA, AMF, downtown revitalization, and my historical pursuits, I'll really be at the nexus of all the things I want to be.
So the other day on Facebook I see this quiz people took - How Many of These 100 Influential Rock Albums Do You Own? This was so right up my alley that I broke my almost inviolate rule against doing anything on Facebook that requires the fuss of using an app. I got to the quiz and started scrolling down. It didn't take long before my mind was saying "What the....?"
It was the most weird-ass, crack-smokin', left-field group of stuff I've ever seen. There were very few albums that EVER come up in conversation, or articles, or stupid countdown TV shows. When there was even a band I like, they seem to have picked the most obscure album by that artist. It was only afterwards that I noticed that the modifier "most" was missing from the title. I.e. "100 Most Influential Albums." It merely said "Influential." Well, hell, any album is influential - even if it only influences you to turn it off or trade it in.
I was so put off that I deleted the app and was inspired to cleanse my psyche by creating the following list - which is actually based on something called "criteria." Unlike the stupid Facebook quiz app.
So, my criteria for this list are that each album strengthened my belief that music is the best thing humans do. Or consoled me in a time of heartache. Or made me dance. Or introduced a totally new and unique sound unlike any I'd heard before. Or made me play tennis racket guitar. And, I'm not just going for influential here, but for "Best." I often have more albums by many of these artists than are listed here, but even the best bands have hits and misses. So these are winnowed to what I think are their strongest output.
This is mostly a subjective list, but many of these albums also made a big impact on the development of Rock and Pop. I'm not sure where the line between Rock and Pop is. iTunes and other music services attempt to use both labels. In my music collection, all the Pop, Rock, Electronic, Alternative, and what have you, all gets lumped under Rock, because it's all listened to under one frame of mind for me - as opposed to days when I turn to Classical or Jazz.
And mostly, the "album" criteria for this list is that the album has to be very cohesive and excellent as an album. You know, with that special flow that draws you along from track to track and makes you reluctant to turn it off before it's over. So, without further ado, here is KennebecTom's list of 191 of the best albums ever (alphabetically by artist, to make your shopping easier):
Hunting High and Low
Stay On These Roads
Lexicon of Love
Manners & Physique
So Red The Rose
The Black EP
The Blue EP
The Red EP
The White EP
Big Audio Dynamite II
The Globe Sessions
Music For The Masses
Songs of Faith & Devotion
Lovesongs for Underdogs
Seven And The Ragged Tiger
All You Need Is Now
Duran Duran [The Wedding Album]
Raise The Pressure
Reach The Beach
Flesh For Lulu
Long Live The New Flesh
Florence + The Machine
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Welcome To The Pleasuredome
Gene Loves Jezebel
Tonight And The Rest of My Life
Become What You Are
Building The Perfect Beast
The Magnificent Tree
Blue Wonder Power Milk
Left Of The Middle
Welcome To Wherever You Are
The Jesus And Mary Chain
Certain Things Are Likely
Love And Rockets
Love And Rockets
Confessions On A Dance Floor
Sing You Sinners
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Listen Without Prejudice
The Mission U.K.
Carved In Sand
Grains Of Sand
Out Of Mind Out Of Sight
Jagged Little Pill
Flavors of Entanglement
Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
Under Rug Swept
Vauxhall And I
Ringleader of The Tormentors
You Are The Quarry
Power, Corruption & Lies
Nine Inch Nails
Pretty Hate Machine
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
The Pacific Age
Pet Shop Boys
Ghost In The Machine
Reggatta De Blanc
The Power Station
The Power Station
Sunshine On Leith
Automatic For The People
New Adventures in Hi-Fi
Tales From The Turnpike House
Cupid & Psyche 85
Anomie & Bonhomie
The Sisters of Mercy
The Soup Dragons
Babylon And On
Love Is Here
The Dream Of The Blue Turtles
Nothing Like The Sun
Ten Summoner's Tales
Tears For Fears
Everybody Loves A Happy Ending
Songs From The Big Chair
The Seeds Of Love
Make Some Time For Wasting
The Joshua Tree
Rattle And Hum
The Unforgettable Fire
Labour of Love
Beauty & Crime
Songs In Red & Gray
Nine Objects of Desire
Big Beautiful Sky
The Colors In The Wheel
Mechanics & Mathematics
Songs For Superheroes
The Wonder Stuff
Eight Legged Groove Machine
Whew. Um. Well, I got a little carried away maybe. That's 191 by my count. There may be some others that'd make the list in my library, but I'm just not familiar with all of them enough to be sure the percentage of superlative tracks outweigh the stinkers. Productive use of a Saturday afternoon? Maybe not, but I hope you enjoy a few "oh yeah" moments and maybe even discover something new.
Well, it was a cool fall day, with alternating clouds and sunlight, and lots of leaves, particularly oak, to mow up. The grass was a little shaggy, too, but mostly I needed to running the mulching mower over leaves again and again. The angle of the light wasn't right for rock. It was a jazz day. Here's what Borg the iPod served up (but actually in the reverse order listed here - which flowed perfectly):
From Here To Eternity - Frank Sinatra
Let's Dance - Benny Goodman
Cumbia & Jazz Fusion - Charles Mingus (this is not the best dinner party jazz, but it is freakin' perfect for mowing a yard to)
Say It Isn't So - Stacey Kent (Diana Krall is overrated and can't hold a candle to Stacey)
My Heart Stood Still - Teddy Wilson
Listen My Children And You Shall Hear - Count Basie
Love For Sale - Ella Fitzgerald (when you listen to the lyrics, wow, this is a naughty, naughty song)
Non Dimenticar - Nat King Cole
The Music Goes 'Round And Round' - Louis Prima (this is totally joyous and hilarious)
Nancy (With The Laughing Face) - Tony Bennett
Witchcraft - Frank Sinatra (I love, love, love this song - the louder the better)
Five Spot Blues - Thelonius Monk (Thelonius depicts melodies by playing around them)
The Lady Is A Tramp - Frank Sinatra
I've Got A Crush On You - Teddy Wilson
Old Man Blues - Duke Ellington
Monterey - George Winston
New Year's Eve In A Haunted House - Raymond Scott
Thursday - Count Basie
When Your Lover Has Gone - Louis Armstrong
Muggles - Louis Armstrong
You Can Depend On Me - Count Basie
(What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue - Louis Armstrong
Pennsylvania 6-5000 - Glenn Miller
Blues In The Dark - Count Basie
No Blues - Miles Davis (some of the most amazing drums I've ever heard in this one)
Straight Life - Art Pepper
Bewitched - Ella Fitzgerald
Do I Love You? - Ella Fitzgerald
Deep Night - Art Tatum
Mountain Greenery - Ella Fitzgerald
Juke Box Saturday Night - Glenn Miller
It's a fairly large yard and the going was slow with all the leaves.
Something's happening in downtown Waterville. Something wonderful.
Saturday night, Olas brought Arabic-tinged flamenco dancing and singing to downtown Waterville. Gathered in the intimate space of the Common Street Arts gallery, we witnessed amazing musicianship and dancing. I do believe The Magic Portal was opened once again for a span of two hours.
One of the first things that caught my eye when I entered the gallery was the lute-shaped music case on the floor that housed an oud. It is the ancestor of the lute. I was stunned to see one in person, since I had built a fake lute as a prop for Winslow High School's Production of Once Upon A Mattress last year (a lute, I might add, that did not get the billing or stage time it deserved, given the creativity and time consumption of my design - but I digress).
Prior to the performance, audience members visited and took in the photographs and paintings on the walls, of the current gallery show.
Olas quickly created a fantastic synthesis of three disciplines. I've never quite witnessed such interplay between instrumentalist, singer, and dancer. At times the oudist (is that the right term?), Tom Kovacevic, was staring intently at dancer Lindsey Bourassa, and it seemed his instrument was actually a remote control by which he was controlling her body movements. At other times the multi-part clapping rhythms required the musicians to observe each other intently to ensure each part fit perfectly to create an overarching gestalt rhythm.
The oud sounded ancient and exotic. Kovacevic was an intense player, seemingly melding with the instrument, at times hunched over, staring at his own fingers flying up and down the fretless neck. With something on the order of 14 strings, he had ample room for expression.
Singer Chriss Sutherland's voice was powerful and exotic, sometimes reminiscent of a muezzin, sometimes a soft falsetto. There were growled dark passages, as of a half-drunken mournful man, and half-spoken repetitive mumbles like being at a table with a with friend confessing something. His rich and expressive voice conveyed joy and sorrow with undercurrents of Iberian grandeur. Iberian grandeur? Tom, what the heck are you talking about? Well, watch the videos below (but keep in mind, my little iPhone microphone doesn't really do justice to the nuances of Chriss' voice).
And of course the most dramatic element of the evening was dancer Lindsey Bourassa. I myself am a bit shy about dancing in front of others unless the room is dark, I've had a couple of Colorado bulldogs, and preferably everyone else has too. But she was not daunted by the presence of spectators mere feet from her, and danced with conviction and boldness. I have a pretty good idea boldness is a mandatory element of flamenco dancing. The creative multi-color finish-plywood floor of the gallery provided the perfect surface for her percussive footwork. Rapid tapping with stomping punctuation commanded the attention of the viewer and emphasized the patterns and rhythms woven by the musicians backing her.
My favorite moment was when Lindsey was in the center of the room, accompanied only by the clapping of the band members. She was in full flamenco mode with rapid footwork, skirt flourishes, clapping, snapping, and elaborate posturing. Outside the large glass windows of the gallery, I could see some people emerging from the darkness of Castonguay Square. Revealed by the light from the gallery, I could see expressions of wonder and "what the...?" on their faces. They had just exited an event at the Waterville Opera House across the square. They were drawn to the nearer sidewalk. I saw some of them take a few steps back or sideways to scan the windows and door for signage indicating what this amazing place was, where a woman was flamenco dancing in a small art gallery. Good publicity indeed.
When Lindsey's dance ended, the spectators outside joined in the enthusiastic applause. Artistic Coordinator Kate Barnes stepped out and invited them in for a better look, and several entered before the next song and stood along the gallery walls to watch. They were rewarded with several more amazing numbers, and seemed quite content to stand right there, captivated. At the conclusion of the evening, the audience rose to deliver a standing ovation. The performance certainly revitalized my spirit after a day of rainy gloom, contemplating the labor of dismantling my above-ground pool, and other foiled plans.
As I have joined the advisory committee for the formation of the Waterville Arts Collaborative (read more here), I especially loved that Saturday night there were in fact competing cultural events going on, and all downtown. And I hope that moving into 2013 we can create even more of these wonderful moments.
Olas' music is wonderful, the dancing is beautiful, and they are raising money to produce a film they have made about their music. More information is here: www.olasmusicanddance.com/
Common Street Arts is in it's first year of giving Waterville a big shot in the arm of art and culture. It is beginning to accomplish a goal that I share - to make downtown Waterville the kind of place to recommend to visiting friends and relatives. They are currently fundraising to keep this momentum going in 2013, and the best way you can help is by becoming a member, here: www.commonstreetarts.com/become-a-member/
Yup. Had to mow (and weed-whack and drive daughters to and from dance) today. [sigh]
I know you're immediately dying to know what music ole KennebecTom listened to for two hours. Okay, drawing from the 4-5 Star smartlist, here's what the iPod served up:
Song - Artist
Brick - Ben Folds Five
Riverwide - Sheryl Crow
Can't Get You Out of My Head - Kylie Minogue
Hands Across The Ocean - The Mission U.K.
Grace - Ruby
Room At The Top - Adam Ant
Home - Great Northern
Krafty - New Order
Rent - Pet Shop Boys
Dreamer - Elizaveta
Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani
Paper Doll - Rachel Yamagata
Birdhouse In Your Soul - They Might Be Giants
If You Leave - OMD
Catch Me If You Can - Outasight
To Whom It May Concern - Duran Duran
Funky Town - Pseudo Echo
Doctor Jeep - The Sisters of Mercy
Feed The Tree - Belly
The Ugly Underneath - XTC
Matador - Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
Full Moon, Empty Heart - Belly
Let's Dance To Joy Division - The Wombats
Just A Dream - Eleni Mandell
Lightnin' Hopkins - R.E.M.
Forever Young - Alphaville
Suedehead - Morrissey
Super Bon Bon - Soul Coughing
Try All You Want - Electronic
Roxanne - The Police
Was It Something I Said - OMD
Raspberry Beret - Prince
Dream Lover - Saint Etienne
I'm Not Sorry - Morrissey
Fascination Street - The Cure
Love Is Dead - The Lovemakers
Hold You - OMD
Intuition - Natalie Imbruglia
Goddess of Love - OMD
I Take The Dice - Duran Duran
So In Love - OMD
Keep Me In The Dark - Arcadia
(Do Not) Stand In The Shadows - Billy Idol
Circle - Sarah McLachlan
I don't know what mathematical algorithm drives the "random" feature on iPods, but sometimes I swear it has actual preferences. Today, for instance, it went heavy on Morrissey, Belly (Tanya Donnelly) and especially OMD. Go figure.
Recently, on Facebook, I posted a link to my wife's super-killer reading list (she's a high school English teacher and reads voraciously). I, on the other hand, am a voracious music-listener, as you know by now. And so, when mowing the yard for TWO HOURS, I require the most excellent of playlists, served up by Borg, my 80GB iPod. Here's what shuffled up from the 3,994 song 3-5* Playlist today:
Zambra - Willie & Lobo
Change of Time - Josh Ritter
In Today's Room - Squeeze
Home - Sheryl Crow
Wild Honey - U2
Close To Me - The Cure
No Big Deal - Love & Rockets
How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us - R.E.M.
Breathless - The Corrs
Jump - Madonna
Happily Ever After - He Is We
Here I Stand And Face The Rain - a-ha
Man In The Paper Hat - Eleni Mandell
Dark Is The Night For All - a-ha
Let's Hook Up - Stimulator
San Francisco - Vanessa Carlton
Kiss And Tell - Bryan Ferry
Ask - The Smiths
I Don't Love Anyone - Belle & Sebastian
The Waiting - Tom Petty
La Femme Accident - OMD
Broken Promise - New Order
Let's Go Forward - Terence Trent D'Arby
East of the Sun - a-ha
Leave - Katie Todd
Waiting For The Night - Depeche Mode
Small Town Witch - Sneaker Pimps
It was a pretty good mow.
They're crazy. Completely crazy. On August 2, I attended another Salon Series Concert of the Atlantic Music Festival - and the musicians defeated me. That's because they engage in this tag-team gang-up. I sit and watch. Just one mere mortal and his observational faculties. Then musicians start marching out and playing things. Like the ultimate talent show ever. Beginning at 9:00 PM, I stuck with them till 11:30, just after the amazing Carlos Avila and Jonah Kim teamed up again to deliver Brahms' Sonata for Piano and Cello No. 2 in F Major. Later, on Facebook, I asked AMF (whoever the face behind the Page is) how long they kept going. The concert ended at 2:00 AM. Unbelievable. Crazy. And awesome.
For the second piece of the evening, guys came out and partly dismantled the grand piano in preparation for the torments it was to experience. They slid back the top cover to a place where it straddled the strings, and allowed access to the guts of the piano. This also moved the music rack back farther. Then, out came Jade Conlee and Magdalena Wajdzik and squeezed side-by-side onto the piano bench. They then proceeded to play the cacophonous Celesta Mechanism: Cosmic Dances by George Crumb. This involved playing on different ends of the keyboard, tapping lightly on keys and then building in speed and force until virtually pounding on them. They also reached inside the piano and strummed or plucked strings, maybe even banging on them. It was certainly a wake-up call at the beginning of the concert, and it could have been the soundtrack to a footchase scene from The Bourne Identity or a James Bond film.
This was followed by a BEAUTIFUL song, "Mas que un Bolero", sung by Ferzan Demircioglu and composed by Natalia Esquivel-Benitez, who I gather was right there in the audience, as a woman who seemed to fit the name arose, came up, and hugged the singer and shared the enthusiastic applause from the audience.
During the night we also got something of a mini-concert of Dicterliebe by Robert Schumann, as sung by one of my favorite AMF vocalists, William Goforth. Somehow, Goforth reminds me a bit of a classical version of American Idol's Adam Lambert. He is an amazing vocalist, and sings German in a very compelling way. I have no idea the content of the lyrics, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wenwen Du played piano. She is amazing at the keyboard. I subscribed to her page on Facebook, along with Jonah Kim, to see what other things they do throughout the year, and was startled to see one evening, while I was visiting New York City, that she was at the Disney Store in Times Square, about 1 block from where I was eating dinner. What a small, funny world we live in. Facebook is really a game-changer in a lot of ways.
Following Dicterliebe, was the jazzy, whimsical "What Kind of Dog Are You?", written by Andrew Thomas, who also played piano on the piece that evening. The crowd loved it, and it was a humorous refreshment after the fairly heavy-duty Dicterliebe.
And this brought us to the last piece I could stay for, as I had to get home to bed and preserve some of my 42-year-old mind for work the next day. I made it only to #9 out of the 23 scheduled works. I stuck it out for another opportunity to see Carlos Avila and Jonah Kim play together. They were again a powerhouse duo as they performed Brahms' Sonata for Piano and Cello No. 2 in F Major.
Here's the thing about Carlos Avila. When he plays piano, the note starts before his finger presses the key. You can see it coming. It's like a tennis player winding up. Arm stretched back, back arched, ball tossed gently skyward. You feel anticipation knowing that ball is going to get whacked.
Avila plays piano in much the same way. His whole body goes into each note. You can see the note coming. From where? I don't know. From beyond. From some other universe. The ether. It's as I described in a previous post. The Magic Portal effect. There seems more to each note than just the mechanics of a key driving a hammer into a metal string. There is passion in each tone. Nuance. His chi is focused like a martial artist. And he plays through the note. He has follow-through. The music is noticeably enhanced by this commitment. Each note is not just something that happens for a split second - with a beginning and an end to its existence. The notes are like neutrinos traveling from the sun, passing briefly through us, and then continuing onwards to some other place. You have the feeling that the music has been traveling through space and time since the inception of the universe and that Avila has briefly revealed it us. Afterwards, you have the comfort and the awe of feeling that it continues to exist and will forever. And always, as the last note of a movement or entire piece is fading into hushed silence, it as if, with your ears rather than eyes, you can "see" it receding into the distance until it passes beyond some sound horizon.
I would have loved to stay for the whole concert, but alas, the AMF artists ganged up and defeated me. And I thank them for it.
Leonard Bernstein: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. It was introduced to us telling us that in it we'd hear some of the theme later developed into West Side Story. True. This piece was interesting in that, if West Side Story was a sculpture, it would be like walking up to a table and finding the broken pieces of the mold it was cast in. You wouldn't quite be able to make out what the complete West Side Story would be like, but you'd get the vague impression of its dimensions and texture. This Sonata is like the mold.
And secondly, the AMF performance of Appalachian Spring, which is the piece that got me off my butt and up to Lorimer Chapel once again, was totally satisfying. The musicians gave it a beautiful and emotionally rich performance.
Oh, finally, somewhere I thought I saw an early draft of the program suggesting Barber's Adagio for Strings would be on the bill. Thank God, I was spared that. I must be the one person on Earth that can't stand the Adagio. I was glad it wasn't played, though I would've endured it to hear Appalachian Spring.
It's a lot easier to review the Orchestra Concerts than the Salon Series because there are only three works performed instead of about EIGHTEEN. Saturday's concert felt like a light dessert compared to Thursday's belt-buster. This was my seventh AMF concert this season. At one point I bragged I'd attend every single concert. But having a family, rivers to kayak, a job, and the typical mammalian need for food and sleep, I fear that's just impossible.
All the AMF musicians being great individually, when they come together in a full orchestra, they are a powerful force indeed. I like to sit in the side galleries when I can, so I can view the conductor's face, and see down the full rows of woodwinds* and brass, because one of them is always up to something. Also, the rest of the crowd (of which I was happy to see a large turnout Saturday night) usually sits elsewhere, so I have freedom of movement. Unfortunately, there's been this covered upright piano parked right in front of my favored zone this year, but I could still see over the top passably well.
Saturday night started for me with an unwelcome companion - an elderly "Earthmother" type, fond of slipping her shoes off and putting her bare feet on the back of the pew in front of her, and even in the hymnal rack on the back of the pew. She bounced in at the last moment, even as concertmaster Dennis Kim stood to call the orchestra and audience to attention. She entered through the stage door, and I had a tense moment when I expected the audience would start applauding, thinking the conductor was coming out, but it was only her with her cup of coffee in hand.
Luckily, the crowd didn't take a miscue. She swept over and plunked down next to me. She was wearing perfume of the scent-category I least like, which was quite noticeable in the still, humid air of Lorimer. I was scooched away a bit, diminishing my carefully planned view.
The orchestra began with Beethoven's powerful Coriolan Overture in C minor. I was previously unfamiliar with this piece, and I now rate it "Awesome", with the capital A. I was somewhat distracted by my seat-neighbor's habit of matching the conductor's vigorous arm-swoops. It was a great piece and a great performance. I'll have to see about getting a recording of it. I applauded enthusiastically but was completely outdone by my neighbor, who leapt to her feet, waved her hands over her head, and hooted a bit. I think one of the flutists noticed and was a bit taken aback. I was leaning to my right, away from her, trying to use body language to inform the audience that "I do NOT know this woman."
Part way through the performance, I realized my mind was dwelling on her, and not the music. I knew I had to move a little farther down the pew. My ex-seatmate seemed to take no offense, as it afforded her the opportunity to stretch her legs out on the pew where I had been seated, and she could half-turn conveniently to set her coffee on the windowsill. My move inhibited my view further, but soothed my psyche.
The second piece was Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 2 in E flat minor. Performance - 5 stars. Composition - 2 stars. I'm just not going to be a Schoenberg-lover I guess. The conductor was correct that the finale was powerful, and I did enjoy that bit as a demonstration of orchestral shock-and-awe. I'll tell you who does appear to love Schoenberg - clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich. When not playing, he was staring at the score, swaying with the intensity of the music, and sometimes grinning as if agreeing with and approving Schoenberg's intentions. So while I didn't connect with Schoenberg myself, it was neat to see Gleb enjoying it. The clarinet parts appeared pretty challenging and during the bows I did give a standing ovation** directed at Gleb for his enthusiasm. I have no doubts about his skill after the last Salon Series concert.
It was also then that I had the thought that Schoenberg was communicating with Gleb, with the orchestra, with all of us, over the years and from beyond the grave, through those notes on the scores. I thought it amazing this system of musical notation, a true international language, has been created to allow the greatest composers to communicate with us over the centuries. For their thoughts and feelings and emotions to survive in a kind of immortality. And then my brain connected this to painting and literature, and then it seemed to be a commonplace and unremarkable thought and...oh well.
During intermission I took the opportunity to relocate entirely. I scouted the center balcony, but chose to sit in the nave. It wasn't a great seat, but I had a pretty good view of pianist Zoe Lu during Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major. The orchestra was mostly blocked from view by the grand piano. Zoe Lu was very energetic, and brought a powerful sound from the piano despite her petite frame. She earned a standing ovation and three bows from the audience and I. My own applause was targeted at her skill and in recognition of the colossal time and dedication it must have taken to master the piece.
Another fine night. It's quite an artsy summer for me, as the week after AMF ends, I'll be visiting NYC for three Broadway shows, a tour of Juilliard with my oboe-playing daughter, a visit to MOMA and more.
*I asked my wife, "Is a flute considered a woodwind?" She said yes. I sat in silence mulling this. Knowing exactly what I was thinking, she added, "Light on the wood, heavy on the wind." File under: Reasons Why I Love Her.
**On the issue of standing ovations, I am mindful of my beloved bride's disdain for standing-O pushovers, who give a standing ovation at the drop of a hat. There's really a lot of considerations for standing ovations. My family has and does view performances by little kids, junior high, and high school bands and choruses, dance recitals, music camp orchestras and jazz bands, high school plays, theater performances at Theater at Monmouth and Maine State Music Theater, and professional Broadway companies. So I usually adjust my standing ovation criteria. Sometimes it's based on the composition, sometimes the skill, sometimes the enthusiasm, sometimes what the rest of the crowd does. I'm self-conscious about being perceived as an unsophisticated pushover, but also as a grouchy hold-out. [sigh] It's so complicated. And some nights at AMF, things are so great I'd be giving a standing ovation to every piece. I guess I kind of grade on a curve.
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