About a week ago I went to the symphony with Rafiki. It was an amazing show, and I've been meaning to write about it ever since that night. It was an audience choice program; people had voted on what they wanted the program to be out a list of about 50 pieces, so every time they started a piece you could hear people sigh, or see people smile, because they had memories, or because the pieces are just SO good. It started off with the Star Wars Theme:
Then they played the second movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony. When I was little we had a tape called Beethoven Lives Upstairs (still do, and I still listen to it), and this movement was on the part of the tape just after Beethoven dies, and the whole city is hushed and sad. I cry every time, and I love it. a
Then a Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, variation eighteen, played by Anastasia Rizikov, a 13 year old girl who was astoundingly good, and not just astoundingly good for a 13 year old, she played beautifully. When the conductor introduced her, he said that she had told him that it had always been a dream of hers to play with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and there she was doing it. ,
Then there was the bright, brassy, and bold Dvorak's Symphony From the New World, which is fun and familiar. At the beginning of the second half, they said that during the voting process they had also asked people what music they wanted to hear that wasn't on the list, and that two pieces were mentioned again and again. They were going to play four bars of each, and then ask us (the audience) to vote on which one we wanted to hear tonight by shouting out "Oy what joy!" The conductor said it had been a fantasy of his to hear how that sounded shouted in the acoustics of Roy Thompson Hall. As they played the first four bars of the first option there was a collective sigh among the audience because it was so beautiful, and a collective gasp when they stopped short, but the majority voted for the second option, so we heard a bright brassy piece, then Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings (did you know he liked croutons so much he asked for them to be sprinkled on his grave - and they were). The concert finished up with the 1812 Overture, which I always associate with this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon:
In the introduction, the conductor said, "What do you get for the man who has everything and loves music? Well Ms. Debbie Morrison had this dilemma, and so she got her husband a seat in the orchestra. He will be playing the base drums for you tonight." He did a great job too - banging his way through the piece with the other base drummer and a big grin on his face, clearly having the time of his life. When it ended we cheered and clapped and gave them a standing ovation and the lady behind us shouted "encore! encore!", and eventually the symphony sat down and raised their instruments. The lady behind us whispered, "You see? You never know what you get until you ask." They played the other piece of music that we had voted on but hadn't chosen, and I WISH I knew what it was because it was a piece of music you could melt into. It was beautiful beyond belief. When it was done, Rafiki whispered "One more! one more! I want another one - but I'd probably go on saying that all night."