SUNDAY (couple of weeks ago, not yesterday)
So. . . I wrote this long piece on how I got back to UCLA and the Meet the Bruins gymnastics event, but when I reread it I thought it was tremendously boring–yes, even more than usual, shut up! Rule is, if I get bored by it, it ain’t goin’ in. Hopefully the rest of it turns out better. . . but then it could hardly get worse.
So, by four o’clock I was back in the student union–damn, I keep writing student onion–and doors wouldn’t open at Royce Hall till six, so what to do? There was always the lounge, which would no doubt be showing NFL football on the huge screen. Which was okay, but instead I headed down to the bookstore first, determined to find something on which to spend my 20% alumni coupon that wouldn’t cost much; I used my last one to buy a Bach action figure for Hilary Hahn, though I haven’t had the chance to give it to her yet. Anyhoo, just as I was about to give up on that, I pass through the science-fiction section; I haven’t bought a sci-fi physical book in a long time, now kindling them. . . electronically, not using them for fire. Up on the top shelf, displayed prominently, is Clockwork Angels, the book version of Rush’s album of the same name. So I confiscate a copy and take it to the small area with tables next to the market, and get all the way to page 100, and amazingly a lot of the songs–at least in the first half–suddenly make a lot more sense. On page 50 there’s a painting, representing where the Anarchist has graffiti‘ed a wall, and above his message there’s a small piece that says MMCXII. . . yep, 2112. Awesome
When the store closed and kicked me out at 5PM, I did go up to watch some football after all, leaving just before 6. Took the elevator up, crossed the bridge into Ackerman, and just like that I’m ¾ up the big hill. From there it was an easy walk the rest of the way, past the library, then across the fountains while looking down Janss Steps toward the playing fields, making the last right turn into the corridor of Royce Hall to will call, then right inside.
After some walking around–including a fun gal giving pens away: “periwinkle!”–I went inside to listen to some of Dvorak’s Piano Trio #4, with Cheryl Norman-Brick on violin and the main man Jeffrey Kahane on piano, a bit of a pre-game show that they made funny as I realized, Wow, these Royce Hall seats are old!
Just like when I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Rush and realized the last time I’d been there had been Hilary Hahn–pretty opposite musical styles, you might say–I had a similar feeling here, where my last trip had been to hear Bryan Adams on his Bare Bones tour, and now classical. After making note of Mr. Kahane mentioning the book Dvorak in Love, I made my way up to my balcony seat and perused the program while having a pleasant conversation with the lady sitting next to me, while her grandson played on his phone. Reading the part about Gershwin, there’s an immediate mention of the word glissando, which I had never heard, and neither had she, but we were overheard by the chuckling man in front of her, who started us on a long discussion about how controversial that word appeared to be.
Coming in just before the start is a funny little man whom I’ve seen at plenty of UCLA events, but I don’t like talking to, so I ignored him in favor of the woman with the gorgeous redhead braid who sat next to him. . .
Because it was so dark, I didn’t get to write down many notes, not wanting to annoy people with my mini-flashlight. Didn’t bother memorizing too much either. . .
1. Dvorak: Serenade for Winds
Took a while, but I finally recognized the main theme, on clarinet. Guy with an absolutely HUGE double bass on the side. . .
2. Copeland: Appalachian Spring
Again took a while to recognize, but I did, got easier when they got to that famous part of what I always thought was a religious song, therefore unlikable, despite the nice melody.
Halftime: yesterday I was on the front balcony on the third floor, looking out at the library as I partook of a lot of cheese and crackers; today I’m on the side balcony second floor, taking in the walkway I’ve used many times, the towers of Fowler, the women’s gym in the distance, Anderson to the right, and the hill. It does suck, though, that the main reason they open up such a balcony is not for fresh air, but to give the smokers some place to annoy everyone else.
3. Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony
Frenetic, which is usual from John Adams. As has happened just about every time I’ve heard Adams, his stuff reminds me of Stockhausen. This time Kahane is using a baton; I was surprised he didn’t on the first two pieces. I found myself interested–or distracted, depending–in watching the pianist switching over to celesta, taking the book along, then back–from this distance she reminds me of Christiane, whom you know from previous blogs. You don’t usually see classical musicians rocking out. . .
Would it be fair to say most flutists are women? The main guy tonight was indeed a guy, who switched to a piccolo at times; I love stuff like that.
Also fun was watching the stagehands moving the pieces around–the piano got wheeled from back to front to back to front during the night. There are obviously marks, but I can’t see them from here. Other than percussion and the huge bass, the only things they really had to move was chairs.
4 Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
This time Mr. Kahane speaks to audience, talking about how he got his one million miles on United, thought he’d be sick of this song from hearing it so many times on the commercial.
A small digression to recount some history and inspiration on this famous piece. With only five weeks to finish this commission, he took the train from Noo Yawk to Bahston, where. . . in his own words: the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer – I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise… And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper – the complete construction of the Rhapsody, from beginning to end. No new themes came to me, but I worked on the thematic material already in my mind and tried to conceive the composition as a whole. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece, as distinguished from its actual substance.
Kahane mentioned that the piece is often played with a huge orchestra nowadays, but this was done as it was originally written, for only nineteen musicians, yet it still sounded huge. I was surprised to find it only sixteen minutes long, though I never heard the guitar or banjo. Bass was slapping very hard! Drew my attention often. Kahane is loving playing this piano part, left hand going over the right, picking hard; turned out I actually had the best view, looking right over his shoulder at both hands. His solos were really intense!
After a very fast walk to Wilshire the ride home was boring, especially with no photos to look over. Shocked my Achilles didn’t bother me after such a long day. . .