So I bought myself this T-shirt for Christmas, and you may remember I was wearing it when I flew to Kona in November to play Messiah. Never did I ever believe what was printed on it until last night.
I left my apartment and closed my door when my thirtyish next door neighbor greeted me.
“Hi, Kathy, where are you off to?”
“I’m going to the symphony.”
“Uh, what’s a symphony? I’ve never heard of it. Is it like an orchestra?”
“You mean, you’ve never heard of the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra?”
I was stunned. I knew this kid was born and raised in Hawaii. But to have never heard of a symphony? Our education must be severely lacking in the arts! But then I thought to myself, “Well, I know nothing about pop music. I know nothing about sports, except that today in Hawaii is the ProBowl, and the Super Bowl is coming up. I don’t know who is playing in it and don’t care to watch it, thank you very much.”
I guess I must really live in a fantasy world!
Lately when people ask me what I play, I answer “the pipe organ.” Otherwise, if I just say “organ,” they say, “You mean a Hammond B-3? Do you play in a jazz band?”
During last night’s concert, I couldn’t help but think back to my conversation with my neighbor. The featured soloist was Scottish percussionist, Colin Currie, in a performance of Jenifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto. I found some reviews on his website and I’ll just repeat them here.
“Surely the world’s finest and most daring percussionist” –The Spectator, August 2013
“thrillingly athletic…a joy to watch as well as to hear” –The Guardian, December 2013
“staggeringly virtuosic display” –Financial Times, September 2014
“The man is simply a marvel” –The Daily Telegraph, November 2014
Luckily the cadenza in the concerto was posted on YouTube, although it was not last night’s performance, and the Honolulu audience was too stunned to applaud afterwards!
I also couldn’t help but think that if my young neighbor had been here, he certainly would have enjoyed it! I especially liked the antiphonal effects with the rest of the percussion section in the back.
Also on the program was Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major.
One interesting aspect of last night’s performance was the seating of the orchestra. Conductor David Alan Miller told us that it was Leopold Stokowski who changed the original seating from that of the time of Beethoven. Stokowski put all the treble instruments (first and second violins) to the conductor’s left, and the bass instruments (cellos and double basses) on the right. He did this for ease in recording purposes, and the configuration of the modern orchestra was changed forever.
In last night’s concert, though, the first and second violins were divided: firsts on the left and seconds on the right where the cellos normally sit. The cellos were in the dead center, and the double bass was behind the first violins. The harpist, Connie Uejio, was on the right, in contrast to her normal place on the left. The first violins must have thought it weird to be sitting next to the cellos!
I must say that I absolutely loved this configuration! You could hear all kinds of back-and-forth antiphonal effects between the first and second violins. The orchestra’s sound seemed much fuller and richer than usual.
Yay, Hawai‘i Symphony for this imaginative and creative programming!