137. officially old…make that mature
It’s official. I had a MUCH better time at Beethoven’s 9th than I did at the Crue concert (see blog 131). Turns out row CC isn’t three rows back from the front, it’s actually THE front row! I know it’s not the best seat in the house, my neck still hurts and I had a bass-heavy mix since I was basically sitting right in front of the Cellos and Violas. The best seats in the house, sound wise, are probably ten to twenty rows back from where I was because then you get a sense of the full sound of the orchestra blended with the natural ambiance of the concert hall.
But what an experience! Being front and center is a singular experience. I don’t think I’ll ever sit that close again (if I can help it) but I recommend all classical music fans try it at least once. One of the unique things about being that close is being able to really see the mechanics of the orchestra. What I mean is, you can see every page turn, every facial expression, every bit of technique. I could even see the horsehairs on the 2nd violinist’s bow fray away in the passion of the performance. And being that close, you really get a sense of the individual instruments before they blend into one sound further out into the concert hall. Again, not ideal for hearing the sound of the orchestra as a whole, but a fascinating experience nevertheless.
And the music! I think of the movie Contact where Jodie Foster meets the “alien” (who takes the form of her father…boo, weak) and the alien says something like, “You’re an interesting species, an interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams. . .” This music, it’s almost inconceivable that such sounds could be the work of one man – a deaf one at that. And an orchestra is a beautiful metaphor for what can happen when different people come together to create something wonderful.
See, another thing you get to see when you sit up in the front row is the uniqueness of the individual performers. From further back everyone is dressed in black dresses and tuxedos. Closer up, you see that some of the women are wearing tuxes as well and some of the men are wearing dresses (not). I could see that one of the violinists’ pants were old and a bit frayed – not ratty, just well worn. And the age mix was interesting as well. There were instrumentalists who looked like they were still in college and others who may have been retired from whatever career they pursued in order to keep playing music. Being the Honolulu Symphony, there were also lots of different ethnicities represented.
What I’m getting at is, there were all these different people – different just based on their appearance, multiply that by what different lives they must all lead away from the orchestra – and yet these differences are set aside for the sake of this amazing music. What an example for the rest of the world, for our nation, for the body of Christ. Call it naive idealism, but what would life on planet earth be like if we were to, if only for a season, work together towards some common good? I think of those disaster-from-space movies like Armageddon or Deep Impact or Independence Day or Signs. Faced with global annihilation, people put their petty differences aside to fight the comet or the asteroid or the aliens. Like Sting sang, while still in the Police, “one world is enough for all of us.”
During the intermission I was reading about Beethoven’s 9th symphony in the program and it said that this was not just an Ode to Joy, but also a celebration or tribute to the brotherhood of all mankind. And I guess he succeeded because look at me going on about all of us getting along.
You know, I was just thinking (still thinking, after all that?), I’m no expert in eschatology (Biblical study of the end-times) but I wonder if the message of Revelations, with it’s horrors of the antichrist and tribulation, is a warning for the rest of us that if we can’t get our shit together in peace then God’s going to rain down fury from heaven and won’t we feel stupid then for not being able to settle our differences civilly? I mean the terror of a species-ending object from space crashing into the earth is nothing compared to the wrath of God unleashed.
I don’t know. All I know is, I had a kick ass time at the concert. Don’t get me wrong, I still love rock music. If Sheryl Crow had been playing on the same night, you’d better bet I would have been there instead of at the orchestra. I mention Sheryl Crow because out of all the concerts I’ve been to (not that I’ve been to a lot, Hawaii is NOT a tour stop for most bands), Sheryl’s was my favorite by far. Would I say that her concert was better than tonight’s? Hard to say. They both touched places deep in my heart, just different places or in different ways.
Anyway, I’m working the early shift at work tomorrow and so I’d better get to sleep.
If I don’t write before then, let me take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy new year full of good luck and joy.