Discover America Tonight at SLSO

December 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Chris Maue, Concert, music, SLSO | 1 Comment
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cdbigThis is a little bit last minute, but if anyone’s looking for something interesting and fun to do tonight, SLSO is continuing their ongoing Classical Detours series at Powell Hall, with tonight’s theme – Discover America.    Enjoy several pieces by American composers Bernstein, Copland, Rodgers, and even John Williams.      In SLSO’s own words: 

“No “Jingle Bells.” No “Rudolph.” The SLSO offers holiday relief.”

 

And, as always, the performance is prefaced with free beer sampling courtesy of Schlafly. 

 

— FREE TICKET INFORMATION —

 

Although it may be too late to use this info tonight, RFT vetran and current SLSO blogger Eddie Silva sent me this info on how to get FREE TICKETS to SLSO shows.    Read on:

 

50 Free Ticket Program:

The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra offers 50 free tickets to the public for all of its regular Orchestral concerts (except Coffee Concerts). To receive your free ticket you must have a 50 Free Membership Card. To get your card simply stop by the Saint Louis Symphony Box Office and sign up for your free card. The card entitles you to a free ticket to six  orchestral concerts per season. To redeem for your ticket, present your card and a valid picture ID at the Box Office window 2 hours before a valid concert.  Tickets will be handed out for 30 minutes or until all 50 tickets have been distributed.  Cards will be punched each time you receive a ticket. Tickets are given to valid free ticket card holders on a first come basis. One free ticket card per person per season.

Bloggers Night with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra

November 18, 2008 at 2:10 am | Posted in Chris Maue, comics, Concert | 10 Comments
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Last night was Blogger’s Night at Powell Hall, and I found myself among the esteemed guests. I asked my friend, and music review blogger, Patrick Vacek, to come with, which lead to interesting results. As one that doesn’t particularly frequent the symphony, I was worried that Patrick and I (emphasis on the I) would stick out like the unwashed hipster bums that we are.

So when Pat and I showed up, under dressed, and just as excited about the prospect of free drinks as seeing the performance, we hadn’t considered exactly who the regular attendees of the symphony are – old eccentrics & academic bums. One of my favorite moments was when an older woman sitting next to me turned and cheerfully asked if Pat and I were college professors, and why we were taking notes. After explaining to her that we wrote for a blog, and having her ask me “what is ablog? ” Patrick and I felt like some sort of undercover agents from the culture wars, in the den of high class, until later that night when a crazy old man jokingly berated us about how scandalous the performance that night had been. Afterward, we went out for drinks down the street with other bloggers, and it hit us that we actually had a niche, and a culture we fit into – that people on the other side of the screen actually exist, and blogging isn’t all just shouting into the aether. I’ve posted a comic about it here. All in all, it was a pretty awesome night.

— Concert review —

When I initially heard about bloggers night at Powell Hall, it was in connection with the SLSO Guitar Festival, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – unwashed nerds lining up for something like Metallica’s S&M? Well dressed journalists coming out to see an orchestra composed entirely of Fender Telecasters, Gibson hollow bodies, and Flying V’s? A pit full of violinists wailing on power chords? I mean, what is a symphony guitar festival? Dare I hope, a rock opera? It turns out the answer wasn’t anything that cool.

The first song – Mark-Anthony Turnage’s A Prayer Out of Stillness – was the guitar – related piece of the evening.

The song had four movements, and featured a cello Bass/electric bass soloist, in front of the string section – the wind instruments, and some percussion (including piano) were conspicuously absent.  The song began with the strings playing tense chords, while the soloist quietly plinked around by himself, seemingly playing a different song, unaware of the orchestra behind him, and not caring if anyone heard.  This went on for a while, until something unexpected happened.

Everything went dead quiet, and the orchestra paused while an electric bass was brought out, and exchanged for the cello Bass.

The question I kept asking myself after that point was, if every other rock band ever can handle  a roadie walking up and trading guitars with a performer, often mid-song, why does the symphony have to stop everything while someone hands them a bass?   If that wasn’t enough to take my attention out of the performance, they repeated this ritual 3 more times, between every movement – a habit which really sealed shut what was a strangely arranged, and uninteresting piece.

If the constant stop – and – switches weren’t enough, the second movement made the bass part seem even less connected to what the rest of the orchestra was playing, culminating in the third movement, where both cello bass and electric bass soloed while the rest of the orchestra just took a break.

The fourth movement tied everything back together, but not in a tension – and – relief sort of way… it seemed more like the composer hadn’t figured out what they wanted to do until the fourth movement.  Not in a coherent way, anyhow.

The second song – Steven Mackey’s Beautiful Passing –   was much more interesting, with a violin soloist front and center for the entire piece, making things very interesting.  Not only was the soloist incredibly talented, but the wild way that she jerked around, like a woman possessed, as she played, made violin seem dangerous and sexy.

The third song – Stravinsky’s The Right of Spring – was amazing.  The song was epic in a way that one expects an intense orchestral piece to be, full of polyphonic tension and resolution, highs and lows that make your mind wander so scenes of beauty and violence.  The music was accompanied occasionally by words projected behind the orchestra, describing youths frolicking in a field, until holy men come and sacrifice a young woman to the god of spring.

The thing that struck me the most about this last piece, was that my mind kept wandering to things like Loony Tunes, and Star Wars.  Maybe I’m just a pop culture junkie raised on cartoons and fantasy, but when I hear classical music, these are the things that come to mind.

All in all, the concert was pretty awesome, and although the first song left me thinking dreading the next two, and thinking that the composers had a screw loose and didn’t know what they were doing, the second two performances were awesome and well worth the price of an actual ticket.

Although according to SLSO’s resident blogger, Eddie Silva, the symphony offers 50 free tickets for every performance, all you have to do is show up early and ask for ’em.    I guess I’ll be going back sooner than later.

–Correction–

As noted by user bassplayerKat, John Patitucci was playing a BASS. not a CELLO.  As one with limited knowledge of orchestral instruments, I didn’t really know the difference.  Corrections have been made.

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