Friends and I went to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s concert just before Christmas – a wonderful evening. Everything suited to the winter and the holiday season. It is a fabulous orchestra, great sound, in a wonderful hall. Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, Beethoven’s Romance Number 2, Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons, Rossini’s The Fantastic Toyshop.
The musicians are incredible, Paavo Jarvi is a musical star, such good energy. The orchestra is now truly world class.
But the symphony is very seldom now a place I want to go. And I’m clearly not the only one. The acoustically near perfect hall was only about 1/3 full.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s, I couldn’t wait to go. Wanted to be there all the time. And I still am passionate and need to be there during our short opera season. Had been there just a week or two before for Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion.
And yet, much as I love the symphony, the musicians, the Hall, Paavo – something in me does not want to be there for them. I do not understand why, but I can feel my own resistance. And it’s not just Music Hall – it seems to be pretty much all classical music, and sometimes even extends to other genres. Jazz is another form that doesn’t interest me any more.
I was musing the other day on whether surcaps – the dialogue in English above the stage at the opera – would be of assistance. Perhaps a description of where we’re supposed to be (if, for instance, it’s about nature), what the composer’s intent was, the feelings this section is musically describing. Though even pieces I know fairly well are not really keeping my attention. Perhaps a short synopsis by Paavo before each piece. Maybe introductions of the key players and performers.
Perhaps it’s that distant perfection, no real intimacy or reaching across. Perhaps we / I now want a physical as well as cerebral experience. Could it be that I / we now want to be able to at least sway to the music, and no longer are content to sit quietly and be recipients? Something about that feels right to me.