A La Carte – Bethany Hensel

I have two queries, both seemingly random but definitely related to each other.  Okay, here goes:

Does anyone ever notice how the more European the conductor, the more seemingly large and grand and flamboyant his conducting is?  I mean, compare Yan Pascal Tortelier to Marvin Hamlisch and you'll see my point.

Second question: does anyone ever wonder why there is a metal bar going across the back of the small podium the conductor stands on?  I have a theory, and it involves large and grand and flamboyant conducting and wondering how many conductors have fallen off that podium before someone realized to put up a little bar across the back.

And you know what, here's another thing.  Does anyone notice how the soles of every conductor's shoes, even though they are black, turn red the moment they step up on that little podium?

I'm sorry for all the questions, but these questions amuse me, and I'm just in such a good mood, I can't help it.  Can you blame me though?  After a summer without the symphony – my soul food – I finally, finally, finally got a great big helping of it!

And not just any helping.  Thursday's performance was not the usual feast the Symphony offers.  There were no distinct courses, no soup and appetizer and dinner.  Thursday's performance was actually like an a la carte of desserts – the best in the city.  Tasty morsels and delicious bits of composition, beautifully prepare dand wonderfully presented, that hit every sweet tooth I had.  

The program was a preview of the 2009-2010 season, including works by Mozart and Prokofiev, Strauss and Brahms – the last a violin concerto played with gorgeous ease and finesse by PSO violinist, Ms. Chen-Livingston.

And conductor Lawrence Lo, red-soled shoes and all, was an absolute pleasure to watch.  He so clearly enjoys what he does.  He's charming to the audience, he's attentive to his orchestra.  I had the great opportunity to see him conduct the PSO chamber orchestra several months ago, and he was just as much a delight then as now. 

It really was an amazing night, and I'm so glad that I was invited to come back as a PSO blogger.  You never really forget how amazing the symphony truly is – just like you never forget the taste of your sweet sixteenth birthday cake – but the memories get hazy, they grow dim.  You forget the smell of hte Hall. But seeing the symphony on Thursday, it was like a fountain had been replenished.  Everything came into crystal clear focus, and all the reasons why the PSO is so successful came back into perfect recall.

The 2009-2010 season is ready to go, and if the dessert tray was any indication, the season should be a sweet one.  

3 Responses to “A La Carte – Bethany Hensel”

  1. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would describe Boulez’s conducting as “large and grand and flamboyant”.
    I’ve seen conductors grasp the back bar while conducting.

  2. bethany says:

    Hey, maybe that’s why the bar is there! Maybe it’s not to prevent the really energetic conductors from falling off, it’s to let the really mellow conductors lean back. :)

  3. Doug Bauman says:

    “Does anyone notice how the soles of every conductor’s shoes, even though they are black, turn red the moment they step up on that little podium?”
    Yes, for quite some time I’ve notice that!

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Sep 8