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.

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Classical Music in the Community

February 6, 2008

Just a few posts ago, we were discussing classical music and the difficulties it faces. One such hurdle was the fact that great orchestras, such as the LA Phil are very expensive to attend. Well after tonight, I am incredibly encouraged.Tonight, I attended a concert given by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It took place at Pomona First Baptist. The cost? A mere $5. This incredible event was the 9th annual LA Phil in Pomona Concert, put on by the city of Pomona. Due to the incredibly low price, and the location, many people were able to attend. People from all walks of life, ages, genders, and races packed the large sanctuary. It was incredibly encouraging to see young kids, the elderly, and people my age all attending the same concert. This was an incredible opportunity, bringing fantastic classical music out to the people.I soon had to realize that this concert was very different than any other classical concert I would attend. The acoustics of the sanctuary were a bit odd. The strings could be heard quite well. The winds and brass, though positioned highest on the stage, never seemed to quite reach their full potential. Frequent coughs, the cry of a baby, and poor applause timing plagued the evening. This irritated me at first until I realized that this is exactly what I wanted. All of that comes with the territory. Of course they are going to begin applauding when there is a short rest. Of course there are going to be babies crying. But the people are there nonetheless, eager to hear the beautiful music made by this professional group. I promptly removed my elitist music snob cap and enjoyed the rest of the concert. It was so great to see all these different types of people enjoying classical music together.Though it was a very different experience from an LA Phil concert at Disney Hall, it holds equal value in my mind. They have brought incredible music to the community. In the age of video games and disappearing music programs, the LA Phil has struck back to provide easily accessible great music to the people.