Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Chicago Symphony Adventure

I already mentioned last night that I went to the symphony last night, and now I'll tell a little bit more about that whole event. I was looking for something to do, and I passed by the Chicago Symphony. As I kept walking back toward the hotel, I turned around and decided to be that guy who goes to the symphony. So I checked it out, and they were offering student tickets for only $15. So I paid my money, got my seat, and listened to a very good program of music. They started with a good piece by Delius, but then played a great Symphony No. 6 by Sibelius. Apparently, Sibelius changed the way in which symphonies were conceived, making them free-flowing and organic as opposed to totally separate movements within the piece.

After the intermission, the next pieces by Webern, entitled "Five Pieces for Orchestra." Using a wide variety of instruments, these pieces were played in only four minutes. Before playing them, however, the conductor explained that a large concert hall wasn't the best venue for the hearing of such pieces, so the orchestra would play them again after the concert was concluded. But this second time, the audience would be invited up onto the platform to sit with the orchestra, side by side with the people and instruments actually making the notes. The final piece, one of the last concertos by Brahms, was played beautifully by the two soloists, and then there was a short break while the stagehands reset for the Webern pieces. Once the audience was settled, the conductor had the musicians demonstrate some of the qualities of their instruments, and then they played the Five Pieces again. Hearing the pieces again was really remarkable, especially as I was sitting only six feet from the woman playing the harp. The first time through, the pieces were interesting in their sparceness. Hearing them all together created a very interesting sound. But that second time, the sound curtain was even more remarkable. Instead of hearing all the sounds overlapping and coming together, I could hear each individual sound coming in and out, playing with the others, and creating more of a aural texture than a sequence of music. This picture to the right represents a sneaked photo of the composer and the orchestra, taking their bow after the second playing. You can see the harp and other instruments in front of me, and the conductor is the grey-haired man in the dark shirt, just over the left shoulder of the woman in front of me. Walking home, I was really happy that I had decided to go get some culture while I was here in Chicago.

More info: visit the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at


Andrea said...

Happy Birthday, you!

Jackie said...

a) happy birthday
b) gah I'm sooo jealous I miss Chicago mucho hope it's going well