Sunday, June 10, 2007

Second Row Orchestra

Last night Tina, Janine and I went to the Disney Concert Hall, my favorite Frank Gehry building.

We were given free tickets to the Bernstein Mass. They were fantastic seats, second row orchestra.

The mass was performed by a girl's choir, several celebrants and a partial orchestra. Only half of the participants that Bernstein's orginal score calls for. It is an interesting interpretation of a mass from a Jewish perspective.

In MASS, Bernstein looks at the issue dramatically; it is subtitled "A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers." Bernstein had always been intrigued and awed by the Roman Catholic Mass, finding it (in Latin) moving, mysterious, and eminently theatrical. The piece follows the liturgy exactly, but it is juxtaposed against frequent interruptions and commentaries by the Celebrant and the congregation, much like a running debate. There is stylistic juxtaposition as well, with the Latin text heard electronically through speakers or sung by the chorus, and the interruptions sung in various popular styles including blues and rock-and-roll. On the narrative level, the hour-and-a-half-long piece relates the drama of a Celebrant whose faith is simple and pure at first, but gradually becomes unsustainable under the weight of human misery, corruption, and the trappings of his own power.

The venue is perfect and the pipe organ is spectacular. One of the great things about the Disney Concert Hall is that it is a 360 degree sitting. You can see an experience the music from every vantage point. The acoustics are specifically engineered by Yasuhisa Toyota to be the best. Our seats couldn't have been better. Every time I get free tickets to the symphony they are always second row orchestra. Ok, so its only been two times but I see a pattern developing.

There is something about being that close to the music that is magical and it also stirs my inner onry child. Reminds me of being in catholic school as a kid. I always got in trouble in mass and had to sit next to the nun to make sure I behaved. I don't know what it is but mind goes into overdrive and I think of a million questions, comments and observations. I think its my natural born tendency to rebel.

But once I got my mind settled I was lulled by the beautiful music. There is something so relaxing about an orchestra. Your mind rests and your soul is inspired by the melodies. We had a great time.

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