Schubert at wd

I’ve been listening to KUSC in the car recently, because I think I’ve exhausted the hot 92 playlist and NPR is of course unbearable.  It has the effect of making driving a much calmer and less draining experience.  No matter how much I love LA, I will never love driving or the sun (yes, the sun.  That’s a separate post).

Anyway, either this, or the revelation that I can see a LA phil show for $10, or the civilizing effect that peeky has on me, but I decided to see a performance of Schubert’s 9th symphony last weekend.  Before this they played a number of “orchestrated songs” – I guess Schubert set a lot of poems to music.  These (the poem pieces) I did not like so much.  They were short and had no real development and it was weird hearing them one after another.  The crowd disagreed and several gave an almost ostentatious standing ovation with many shouts of “bravo.”  And there was still more clapping and an encore, etc.  There is all together too much clapping, really.  The symphony itself was wonderful, playful and lively and positive.  I (not an expert in music) thought that the piece was really driven by the flute sections; they were the most impressive in any case.  The conductor was annoying.  I thought it was very good.  Whether the crown agreed or not was not material, since so many of them left as soon as it was over, with no clapping, because they wanted to get out of the parking lot, I suppose.  So in that case, perhaps not enough clapping.

Speaking of the crowd, they were sort of insufferable.  True, I hate people, so maybe I’m biased.  I didn’t expect the crowd to actually be so cliché – old, and dressed up (rich), and very white.  People running into their ‘colleagues.’    Talking with barely hidden competition about the quality of their seats.  Stepping over people instead of waiting for them to let you through (!).  The upstairs bar had reserved spots.  They clapped after the first movement.  There was a guy in a white leather hoodie and Silverlake glasses in front of me who chastised a nearby Asian man for, I don’t know, making some sound with his program or something.  When I went to the proms over the summer, everyone in the center area had waited in line for an hour or two to pay £5 to stand and listen to some music.  Here, even though I bought a student ticket, I was next to the riff-raff who had paid full price.

But, whatever, it’s $10.


vivaldi at the walt disney concert hall

Look at me, posting for the second day in a row!  I must have serious work that I’m avoiding.  Anyway, on to substantive matters.

Did you know that, if you are a student, like me, you can get $10 rush tickets to any show at Walt Disney concert hall, provided you show up an hour or two before the performance?  Well, you can!  And I did.  This is very exciting.  Last summer I developed a taste for excellently produced classical music in spectacular venues for not very much money.  So this is sure to change my life.  L and I went down and got some tickets, hit up the pirate bar for drinks and some mac and cheese, and got back in time for what was a quite lovely series of concertos by Vivaldi.

The works were performed by a group called “europa galante” that apparently specializes in baroque Italian music, in some cases ‘rediscovering and restoring’ lost 18th century operas.  They were joined by the charmingly narcissistic mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, who dramatically laughed after every performance as if she were surprised people were clapping (there was all together too much clapping and bowing and fake encores in this performance, but that’s beside the point).

I was not too familiar with the works of Vivaldi.  Ok, let’s be honest – I don’t know that much about classical music in general.  If not being able to play the piano is the greatest failing of my life, this is obviously 1a.  Also, I have trouble relating to anything pre-romantic in general.  So his music appeared to me as would something by Donne; I could appreciate the crafted beauty, even if I was emotionally unmoved.  The melodrama of his lyrics, in particular, did not match well with the jaunty uprightness of the music.  Also, the translations of these lyrics (given to us in the program) were poor.  Not that I am so great at translating 18th century Italian, but I know when someone else is messing up a text.  My incessant criticisms aside, I quite enjoyed the performance as a whole.

For $10, this was totally awesome.  The concert hall is beautiful and the sound carries well; even though we were in the back, and there were only a dozen musicians on stage, and they were (I think) un-miked, we could hear fairly well.  This will hopefully and probably become something I do very frequently.

The proms

Every summer, the BBC holds a classical music festival at the Royal Albert Music Hall called The Proms (short for ‘promenade‘).  Every night for two months they have performances, by a variety of orchestras, performers, and conductors.  And everyday, you can line up outside to get £5 tickets!  You have to line up at about 6pm or 6:30 for a 7:30 performance, and you have to stand inside, but you are pretty close to the orchestra and the hall is beautiful, and it’s only £5!  I am not too well versed in classical music, but I know the basics, and plus going to concerts is a good way to learn more.  The first time I went they did pieces by Debussy, Ravel, and a piece that was, let’s say, a bit non-linear by Dutilleux which I had not heard before.  The hit of the night was Ravel’s Boléro, which was spirited and cheerful.  I then tried to ago again that same week to finally  see Gustavo Dudamel, who usually conducts about 5 min away from me at the Walt Disney hall, but by 6:00 the line was already around the corner and down the block, etc.  Finally, this past week I saw Yo Yo Ma perform (with the orchestra) a piece by Graham Fitkin, which was ok.  Then they played the entirety of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, with the chorus.  It doesn’t seem odd that you’ve never actually heard live such a famous piece of music until you are listening to it, and realize that it would be really hard for a recording to be similar to a live experience.  I have no plans to download the ringtone.


Sad News

Of all the bands making records in the past decade, I like about 15 of them.  That might be an exaggeration, but generally I hate a lot of music.  Broadcast was one of the few bands that I really did like.  And sadly, lead singer Trish Keenan has died.  rest in peace, as they say…




Fennesz, Eagle Rock Community Center, 9/29

I went to the Eagle Rock Community Center last week to see Fennesz.  Well, actually Fennesz was opening up for Animal Collective’s Deakin, but I didn’t stick around for that.  Even for $15 it was worth it, considering how little good experimental or ambient electronic music comes around.  The space was quite weird…well not weird for a community center at all, but weird for a concert.  It was a large, church-like hall with fairly bad acoustics.  Still, it was not too croweded and nice to be an electronic show, so I was happy.  Before Fennesz were two bands, one of which was completely forgettable, and the other was called “Prince Rama,” and was sort of like a UCSB psychadelic White Mice (only because they had knob-turning guy as an essential component, not because they were (intentionally) in costume).  Anyway, I took video of most the Fennesz show.  It was about what I expected, a bit less melodic than the one album I have (Endless Summer), and with less structure.  That being said, his use of the guitar really complements the more noise-oriented aspects of the music, without being contrived.  The whole set had quite a calming effect on me.  I don’t go to shows often, but would if I could see more stuff like this.

(I didn’t think to tape the whole thing until the second clip, and so there’s a gap between the first and second.  Also I ran out of space on my camera, but the end of the fourth clip is more or less the end of the show)

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