Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Odd exchanges at artistic events: part two

There was a magical period in my life before children when I had time and money. Rather more time than money, so for a couple of years, I subscribed to the Victoria Symphony at the cheapest rate possible. This had me very close to the stage, which I didn't mind, and surrounded by "comps" (complimentary tickets) which I mostly didn't mind.

"Comps" make an interesting segment of the audience because they are usually people who normally wouldn't come to a symphony performance. Once I found myself next to a lovely older couple who realized, in the midst of a performance of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony, that they recognized many of the tunes.
So they sang along.
And were deeply indignant when I tried, gently and quietly, to restrain them.

One of my favourite "comps" was an elder Scottish lady who was delighted to be there. After the first piece of the afternoon, she remarked to me, "I don't remember Shumann ever sounding like that."
"That's because it was Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland," I explained.
She threw back her head and laughed.
"I wondered why they had the piano way at the back!"

The Schumann piano concerto she had come to hear followed in due course.

I retold this story to a couple of Victoria Symphony musicians at a house party some weeks later. Their jaws dropped.
"That's just the sort of thing we're afraid is happening out there," they sighed, shaking their heads.

Personally, I think they needed to lighten up.

My Scottish lady may have come for the Schumann, but I had been looking forward to Appalachian Spring which has been one of my favourites since discovering Aaron Copland in my early teens.

The Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen, based in Bruges, Belgium, is, from what I can see, similar in size to the Victoria Symphony. The part of Appalachian Spring that I love most begins at the 3:30 part, but the whole thing is gorgeous.

(The pianist is on the right edge, behind the harpist.)

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