A good article on acoustics for the audience, and how, even in a great hall, where you sit can make a huge difference in what you hear. For example – in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall here in Portland, you spend the most money for the Dress Circle seats, which are in the formost portion of the huge overhanging balcony, but these seats are probably the second worst in the house (after those on the main floor which are underneath the balcony) – they are great for looking, but not necessarily for listening. The best seats for just hearing the overall sound of the orchestra are those waaay up in the nosebleed section, the highest part of the balcony. They’re also cheapest – go figure!
(Photo by Viv) For most musicians, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is pretty uneventful. For me, however, it was quite a bit busier than usual the last couple years. Last year I went down to Los Angeles to play as a member of the Harvy Rosencrantz Orchestra, the string band that accompanies the Portland-based band Pink Martini at the drool-enducing Walt Disney Concert Hall.
This year, I had two gigs with this wonderful ensemble, a concert in Seattle at the Paramount Theater on December 28th, and two shows on New Year’s Eve at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. What made this event even more special was (1) the fact that it was being broadcast live on National Public Radio for their Toast of America program, and it was being filmed for future DVD release and PBS pledge drive airings sometime in 2006-2007. No pressure!
One thing that strikes me each time that I work with this group of musicians is that so-called ‘popular’ music gets a bad rap – these men and woman are some of the hardest working and most musically accomplished people that I ever get a chance to work with. Just trying to imagine remembering the lyrics to several dozen songs makes my head spin – and that’s what lead vocalist China Forbes does many times a year, making it look effortless in the process.
So, next time you enjoy a live performance (and I hope this is something that you’re doing regularly) by your favorite band or jazz ensemble, remember that they’re working just as hard to hone their craft as those people sawing and blowing away at your local symphony orchestra concert.
Here is a link to a short set of Pink Martini playing on NPR’s World Cafe – enjoy!