10/6 – blue cathedral, Scriabin, and concert messaging – Christina Johnson

As a new music fan, it was encouraging to see so many people
at a concert prominently featuring a new piece (to be followed by
Messiaen and Scriabin, nonetheless!) For all the
‘scariness’ or inaccessibility that often wrongfully is attributed 20th
century music, this concert felt to me to be quite approachable.

And…the concert messaging screens returned!

Using them after <i>blue
cathedral</i> for Jennifer Higdon’s interview was especially
clever. Initially I was concerned that the screens
would be too easy to ignore, and that the audience would talk over the
interview. But to my pleasant surprise,
the audience listened and seemed intrigued by the video clips. My next
instinct was, “Wait…she’s backstage
right now – why didn’t she just come out and talk to the audience?” But
after a bit more thought, it seemed like
the taped interview format worked really well. Even if it were in a
live interview format, it wouldn’t have had the
same fluidity between questions and topics. My only confusion however,
was the fact that the audience clapped
several times during and after the interview. What is clapping
etiquette for something like this? It bothers me when people clap after
because the artists who created the work are not present to appreciate
the applause. BUT that’s where the confusion entered with
the interview at the concert. Jennifer
Higdon was clearly present at the concert, but…it still was a video
clip. So what in particular were the people
clapping for? Her, the interview, the
video, the piece? This isn’t something I
want to get too caught up in, since they were clapping because they
enjoyed it,
but it still makes me curious.


blue cathedral by Jennifer Higdon was a
change from some of the new music I’ve heard the PSO play in the past. In general it reminded me of wind symphony
music, moreso in its usage of tonality than actual scoring. My concert-going companion said it was his
favorite piece of the evening, which really excited me – how often does one
hear that about new music?!? The piece
itself was a good piece to begin the PSO Composer of the Year for the season – accessible
enough to engage the audience and make them want to return, and touching on a
topic that most people can relate to somehow.

Messiaen’s Un Sourire was a different program choice, and (after reading
the program notes) it complimented the Mozart concerto nicely. Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy
– wow! I hadn’t heard the piece before, but the program notes made it
very exciting, which it certainly lived up to. As unsubtle as it may
be, big sprawling pieces with lots of brass and
woodwinds (and loud parts!) make up most of my favorite orchestral
music. How can you not love nine French horns?  The principal trumpet
was fantastic.  The audience really seemed to enjoy the piece
as well. My seats were in the balcony,
which in general seems to be an area less likely to give standing
ovations, but
most of my section was standing before the second curtain call. I
didn’t make it to the Talkback after the
concert, but perhaps this upcoming weekend…

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