classical 1 initial thoughts

Last night was a bit of a strange concert, at least speaking for myself from my vantage point on the stage.  First of all, there was the sobering sight of empty seats in the hall – lots of them.  It’s not as though this is a strange program – Brahms d minor piano concerto is hardly a dark horse, and the Bartók Divertimento, while it suffers from having the composer’s name printed in the program (some concert goers just turn on their heel and walk out if they even read the name Bartók), is just about as easy going and accessible as Bartók can be.  The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody is just a lot of fun to play and to listen to, so I’m perplexed.  Oh, and Jon Kimura Parker is an amazing pianist by anyone’s estimation, and I’m always amazed when he doesn’t fill halls like a couple of other big names manage to do.  Now we have a pretty thumbs-down review from David Stabler to round out the opening night.  I’m not sure quite what this was all about, except that last night’s concert started out with a performance of the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in honor of Bob McClung, who passed away last week, who was our beloved stage manager.  I think that performance took a lot of our energy and focus, both from the musicians and from Carlos, I think, and so the Brahms suffered somewhat in terms of drive and clarity (at least from the point of view of the orchestra’s performance, not the soloist’s).  Well, we’ll see what tonight’s performance brings – hope to see you there (with a lot of your friends).

By the way – if you know someone who went last night – harass them for their ticket stub, it’ll get you in free if you exchange it for a new ticket within two hours before the start of the concert!

3 thoughts on “classical 1 initial thoughts

  1. Curtis Heikkinen Post author

    Charles, I have some thoughts about last night’s concert that I am anxious to express, so forgive me for going off topic (if it is possible to transfer this to a subsequent post directly related to last night’s concert, please do so). First, let me say that I enjoyed the concert immensely. As much as I enjoyed the Brahms, for me, the highlight was the Bartok divertimento, which, from where I sat, was delivered in a richly expressive manner. My compliments to all the string players in delivering a wonderful perfomance of a fascinating work. I was aware of some concerns about the amount of reharsal time, but you all came through with flying colors. Parker was magnificent as expected, even though I will always prefer the second concerto of Brahms, which I believe is more consistently inspired and better balanced. Finally, the Hungarian Rhapsody was a most appropriate ending to a marvelous evening and surprisingly interesting as well.

    Now I come to the more sobering part of this post. I was disappointed with attendance last night, especially considering the quality of the program. What disturbed me most, however, was the mass exodus of listeners at intermission. I will never understand why someone would leave at intermission after paying for a ticket but what others do with their money is their business. However, I would urge anyone who did leave early last night and may contemplate doing so in the future, to please consider the message it sends to the musicians, who rehearse and give their all in concert to persuade us of the merits of a work. If I were a musician, I would be very hurt that I was not given the chance to demonstrate my skill and to persuade you of the worth of a piece. One of the most frustrating things I have observed about Portlanders is their unwillingness to open themselves to unfamilar works. Sure the Bartok is not as easy a listen as say Mozart or Beethoven, but I submit that such a work is far more rewarding when given the quality of the performance that I heard last night.

    I have had the pleasure over the years of getting to know some musicians such as Keiko Araki , Nancy Ives and most recently, Erin Furbee. They all strike me as hard working, committed artists who work diligently in rehearsal and in concert so that we as concertgoers may experience a rewarding and worthwhile musical experience. If anyone who reads this post left early last night, I urge you to give them the courtesy of staying and listening with an open mind. It won’t kill you and you might just enjoy it.

    I am sorry, Charles, for the rant, but I had to get this off my chest

  2. Nancy Ives

    We do tend to feel crestfallen when people leave and don’t hear what we’ve worked to bring to them, but we don’t expect everyone to want the same things out of the evening. Not everyone is as serious about the music as you are, Curt! I don’t only mean activities like being a member of the Symphony and participating in conversations like this one. You exemplify what a dedicated audience member and listener can bring to the concert experience itself. Your commitment to fully engaging in the music at hand, taking in what’s happening at each moment, is part of the equation in the concert hall, part of the energy flowing back and forth from the stage to the seats. We feel it, that’s for sure! The most exciting concerts are when a critical mass of the audience pays attention at that level and plugs in to that energy, really joining us in the experience. That’s what we’re all hooked on! More people in attendance isn’t just about paying the bills; it’s about increasing the power of those magic moments.


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