Sniffles and Hiccups

February 10, 2008

Last Wednesday, my string quartet had the opportunity at APU to play for the a group visiting the states. The Christian University of Thailand arrived with its president and around 50 masters and doctorate students from abroad to visit our campus. In their arrival, we performed for them the whole of Dvorak’s F major quartet, aptly named “The American“.

At the end of our performance, a standing ovation turned remarkably humbling from what their representative graciously told us (even after their gifts to each of us; very cool shirts).

A young woman stood up and thanked us for the performance, then said for just about all of them, it was their first time hearing a live performance. Why, I couldn’t even imagine! I had to think to myself, ‘I’m sure they have local folk music and what-not’, so perhaps this implied more of their first time with a formal performance, classical strings in particular; the latter they did mention specifically.

Do you remember the first time going to a concert performance? (You may answer). Not necessarily classical, but somehow this caliber and style of music lends itself to, what is my first impression: a high-art and top notch force of music. Maybe it was the first time you heard the colossal sounds of a live orchestra? Saw the coordination of a band of musicians so in tune (no puns, really) and synchronized, or so into each other, that it made you excited for them?

What a privilege that we can have nothing to do on a Friday or Saturday afternoon and by 4 p.m., decide to check out Eschenbach conduct Mahler’s 6th downtown for no more than the coffee some might spend throughout the day. (NOT a knock on coffee)

The LA Phil gave a stunning performance. Having gone to the first and second of three performances this weekend, I had two very different listening experiences. Behind the orchestra, you get the front view of an ecstatic conductor, much learning was had as a music student. Last night however, we got the ‘normal’ view. Sure it sounded great, but…

Do you know how painful it is to suppress a sneeze-inducing itchy nose and a five-hour ‘yet-to-be-done’ hiccup during the Andante movement of a symphony?! Ask me for strategies.