When this day began, no notes plunged tentacles deep within my heart, no songs ran feathers up and down my goose-bumped skin, eliciting magical feelings. No music heretofore evoked rapt emotional sentiment, no sounds crept upon abstracted mind, preoccupied with superficial daily diversion. Yet the symphony concert was about to begin, and I had not yet made myself ready to absorb the abstracted musical foray into glistening heights I usually achieve quite easily with only one felled note.
I listened eagerly, my furrowed eyebrows throwing daggers at my gloomy outlook, attempting to disrupt my present departure from optimism. Somehow I felt out of phase with the universe — surely a world without the beauty of classical music could not bound my horizon for long — certainly the orchestral sounds would unravel the chord that tied my mind.
All around my seat other patrons sat on the edges of their red velvet chairs, engrossed in the brewing cauldron of ephemeral sounds, waiting with collective bated breaths for greater astonishments with each successive cadence. For some, expectations were crystallized in wide eyes and gentle smiles. I sat with rapt attention, still out of phase, and I envied them.
Seeing their apt linkage with the dynamic intonations stirred within me a growing contagion of congenial spirit, and increased excitement in my own appreciation of the piece. Shifting colors slowly filled my soul, now searching for melodic phrases to latch upon, familiarize myself with, and to absorb the form and counterpart fitting the rhythm to my out of synch mind and finally finding a rekindled phase with the universe.
Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier and soloist Sarah Chang were no less responsible for coalescing the former dichotomy between my formerly handcuffed state of mind and my desire to thoroughly enjoy the resonant sounds. Tortelier introduced the concert with his unique style of merry musings on the advent of the inclusion of Morton Gould’s “Spirituals” with Bernstein’s “West Side Story Suite” arranged by Newman, and Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1. It turns out it was simply luck that he played a CD that had sat on his shelf, and upon listening to the ‘Spirituals’ decided this would be the perfect piece to go with the other two. His choice was a good one in my opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed Gould’s composition, played well by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and wonder why I’ve never heard it before.
Sarah Chang’s range of performance salvaged what I felt was a rapid meandering frolic on the West Side Story Sweet by Bernstein. If it had progressed somewhat slower, like the original, I might have enjoyed it more. Nevertheless Chang’s rendition of the melodies, especially in the second half of the piece, delivered a magnetic exhibition.
Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 began. With the slow raising of his hand Tortelier commenced a flute and soft drum roll, then stood perfectly still, waiting for this atypical opening to progress on its own. He points to the violins and they rapidly saw their transitioning portion to the rest of the strings which build a fullness that lends its way to the horns, then to the woodwinds as they sidle up to the whole orchestra, rapidly ascending as if to the very top of a mountain peak, which is followed by a sweet interlude, accelerating to greater rhythms and journeys throughout. Absorbed in the composition, I finally realize I have not changed at all, the universe has realigned itself to me.