Monday, April 30, 2012

ALLENTOWN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 2011-2012 SEASON - “In dearest conclusion”


Lehigh Valley became my residence at the end of November in 2010. I was well aware of the existence of Allentown Symphony Hall before I ever stepped foot in eastern Pennsylvania. I was able to experience classical music from two different seasons at this point in time and I am constantly amazed by each event. Enjoyment of live music is not necessarily based on the virtuosity of the musicians. There are literally millions of complex factors that contribute to every output of live music. There is no possible human calculation to know if a performance will win a majority of an audience. U2 in Los Angeles, California is not comparable to a moment of traditional native music in a small town in Mongolia. The point is, you never know what you are going to get and that's why sifting through countless live performances will expand your values and intellect beyond belief. If you do not agree, I challenge you to go to 10+ live performances over the next three months and then have a conversation with me over lunch (no joke, message me at sachemclark@hotmail.com).

Let's discuss the final two concerts of the symphonic season and then summarize the year. The first of these is highlighted by an original piece, a guitar soloist, and Beethoven's 6th Symphony. Philip Rothman wrote “Timeline.” This sequence wasted no time! It was painfully intense on the first beat. The melodies were profound and traditional. If I can enjoy something traditional, it must be articulate! It led to a long serene section and then ended with more ferocity. It was a scary-calm-scary as hell type of classical structure. The keys may be less relevant. Rothman and I connected over our love of the “Rite of Spring” after the show. We both had similar experiences of mind blowedness upon our first listen of Stravinsky's “Analgesia” if Raymond Watts' magnum opus proves a good analogy here (hint: it does). The soloist was truly notable as a guitarist but the interesting thing is that my guitar student accompanied me to this performance and did not care for him. Like I said, you never know how each individual will react. Beethoven's 6th Symphony, end thought.

The finale of the concert series was all about them damn planets! At least, that is what I had expected. This program would arise long of my expectations. Oversit? The ever-lovin' Michael Toth played a Debussy piece all by himself. His piano playing was highly emotional and never let me feel too shy. When music changes you as a whole person, there is no conscious decision. Michael, thank you. Your gifts are excessively generous. The Mannheim Rocket by John Corigliano was a shocking area of the set list. Do classical musicians ever change the set list like rockers? I like fun (yay!). Corigliano wrote something that was out of the ordinary for small-town orchestras. I really commend Diane Wittry for letting this groovy thang breathe some tasty oxygen. Oh yeah, The Planets by Gustav Holst was pretty good too. Maybe you should just come hear this stuff rather than read me all the time :).

Throughout the season, I was permitted to hear a famous red violin, watch a young Rory Lipkis become a man, have a handsome English gentleman force me to like Mozart and then question my statistics about Depeche Mode, meet and connect to fellow composers, and spend time on Mars. I felt like a Stranger in an exotic locale. I strongly encourage all to visit www.allentownsymphony.org and become a subscriber for next season. I'll even let you sit by me so we can laugh and enjoy together. You'll recognize me as the 24-year-old blond hair/blue eyed beauty with an ear piece and a notebook. Come say hi next time!

-Sachem Orenda (www.sachemorenda.com)

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