Tuesday, October 23, 2012

KEEP RACHIN' (THE SEQUEL) - Haircut Strike!

[WO]MAAAAN!  That felt like forever.  I was counting seconds from the end of Allentown Symphony Association's last classical season until the start of the current one.  On that note (pun!), I just had a sudden realization.  Summer is imperfect because it lacks orchestra.  I just solved the meaning of life.  Thank me later.  The latest concert had two stars, Diane Wittry and Conrad Tao, that led me down a path of inspiration for my new blog series - Keep Rachin'.  Last year we explored an ASA performance of Rachmaninoff so why stop there?

The evening began with the Overture to La Gazza Ladra by Gioachino Rossini.  Two snare players were positioned on the floor to attack a different sound direction.  They migrated to the stage and continued with the orchestra.  To me, it sounded like the snare drums functioned as the lead instrument.  This could be a psychological focus due to the fact that they were given the spotlight, but my ear believed that this was the obvious musical presentation.  Hmmm percussion as the lead instrument?  Where have I heard that claim before (cough cough Barren Lovers cough)?  I also saw another splendid example of Diane Wittry being an orchestral ba dass.  It's that rock and roll in her hands.  Wittry is the Hendrix of conductors.  'Scuse me if I say she's fly.

It's transition time!  After Rossini, there were some heavily romantic themes in a Symphonic Suite by Prokofiev.  Is music romantic because of a label or is it labeled “romantic” from involuntary human interpretations of scientific vibrations?  Forgive me for asking cliché questions.  We also heard a piece by Mikhail Glinka.  I turned to my mezzaninian neighbor and asked her what she thought of the pieces thus far.  Olga Tsurkis responded: “I may be biased because I'm from Russia and I grew up with this music.  Rachmaninoff is my favorite of tonights composers because of the emotional response that he elicits.”   I, sir Orenda, was coincidentally fortunate to end up at these particular coordinates (thank you, Dan + Natalia!).  

Conrad Tao entered the stage with a Keep Rachin' kind of aura.  He was an 18-year-old professional.  You could feel the jealousy of other men in their career struggles.  Possession of extraordinary discipline is the holy grail for artists.  Tao complemented the ferocity of Rachmaninoff's compositional prowess.  The piano concerto annihilated the previous works on the program.  It was more mature, majestic, and malevolent.  Olga's comment resonated with me as I listened intently.  Emotionally speaking, I was scared and vulnerable.  I cannot convey the incredible feelings that enhanced my life's progressions since this moment.  Allentown Symphony's audience agreed.  Applause was decadent and of great length.  It was truly the most intense and sincere reaction I have seen at the hall to date.  I turned around and snapped this glorious photograph!    

I like to refer to classical performances as "rockin'" for 2 reasons.  First, it annoys uptight classical music fans.  Secondly, rocking is a type of energy and attitude, not instrumentation or genre.  Actually, there are "3" reasons.  I want to bridge the gaps in musical appreciation for people of all ages and backgrounds.  Listen to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.  It's exactly what I would expect Sid Vicious to write if he were a classical composer instead of an angry punk.  You might say Igor is an anarchist with pen and paper (but the harmonic progressions and melodic themes are so controlled, Sachem!).  Speaking of defiance, I have been listening to much punk rock lately and have elected to go on haircut strike!  Yes, this is definitely relevant.  [Insert another great transition here]  I grew up on rock, electronic, and avant garde forms of music, but for some reason I attend every Allentown Symphony Hall seasoned concert.  Join me for the rest of the season, and discover the true reason patrons are magnetized (or Magnetoized) to this place.


Get tickets to Allentown Symphony here:  www.allentownsymphony.org
Diane Wittry's website:  www.dianewittry.com
Conrad Tao's website:  www.conradtao.com

Sachem Orenda's Apology for Popular Music is now available:

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