Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

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an emotional season finale

May 16, 2010

I’ve been emotional lately, and I’ve embraced it. ‘Emotional’ is a word that gets a bad rap way too often. Or, at the minimum, it’s a trait that has a negative connotation. You’ve heard people mutter things like, “She is way too emotional” haven’t you? I’ve certainly found myself in the past trying to suppress my emotions, often in public, or at my workplace, but I’ve made an active effort in the past few months to try to change that, because my emotions, quite simply, keep me in check. They remind me of what’s important, who is dear to me, and they connect me to the world around me. I bring this up now, because tonight’s concert struck me as more emotional than usual, and in a way that completely surprised me.

Generally speaking, I’ve been more drawn to the contemporary pieces LACO performs. I’ve been in attendance during a number of world premieres, and they’re usually thrilling. Tonight there was another one – Laconika, by George Tsontakis. It was moody and ominous – two things I love – and it was a terrific start to the evening. But it was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 – which is over 200 years old – that really got to me. I was swept up by the energy, and by the alternating delicacy of the quieter passages and the force behind the intricate, relentless parts. I was moved by this performance, and throughout it, felt sadness, glee, and many things in between. But most of all, I was captivated by the thought that people all around the world, for generations and generations, may have felt the same thing. The people who attended this concerto’s premiere in 1803 (thank you, program notes!) didn’t dress, talk, or live like I do, but I was connected to them this evening, through our shared emotions. How lucky am I to have had that experience!

After intermission, Bizet’s Symphony in C major was performed. I think the only Bizet I’m really familiar with is Carmen, which I kinda sorta heard last season, when LACO performed David Shostac’s Carmen Fantasy, which was his arrangement of the main Carmen themes. The symphony tonight was spirited and very melodious, and so impressively performed with Margaret Batjer leading while playing violin, and without a conductor. I’ve seen LACO performances without a conductor before, but never with this many musicians on stage. That’s a lot of people to keep in time, and during a riotous piece, no less! I should also compliment Shai Wosner, who led the Beethoven concerto and was the solo pianist – his nearly instantaneous transitions between leading the group and tackling his complex solo parts were something to behold.

I was touched that the concert this evening was dedicated to music critic Alan Rich, a vehement supporter of the arts (it was also dedicated to LACO’s Music Director, Jeffrey Kahane, who had suffered a death in his family earlier in the week). I’ve loved LACO for many reasons over the past two years, and one of them is because they buck a common practice of dismissing critics or those with dissenting opinions. I’m basically a critic, although I often try to position myself differently, and it speaks volumes that they allow me an outlet, on their own website, to share my thoughts on their concerts, regardless of what they are. I’ve been encouraged, from the beginning, to be honest if there was something I don’t like, which I am. Well, here’s one thing right now that I don’t like: That the LACO season is over. Do I really have to wait until the fall for their next concert? Ugh, now I’m getting emotional again.

P.S. I know the answer to that last question – no, I don’t have to wait until the fall, because LACO is presenting Buster Keaton’s silent comedy The Cameraman and performing live musical accompaniment. I hope to go, although a conflict on my calendar may prevent me from doing so.

1 comment

I love your sentiment that we are connected across time and space through the musical experience. Kind-of speaks to the fact of our shared humanity. Also, means that we will live on through the emotions (there is that all-important word again!) that music evokes in others 100, 200 and more years from now.

Luckily I don't have a conflict and will for sure be at the Silent Film, one of the funnest events of the year!

I enjoy your blogs and hope that LACO will keep you writing next year and the year after that and the year after that....

  • —Marguerite, May 17, 2010 11:36 am

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