Saturday, February 21, 2009

The things you learn at the symphony

Andrew and I are subscribers to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. I really enjoy being able to do this because a) I love classical music b) it supports the arts; and c) gives us the occasion to dress nicely and go out once every couple of months. Yesterday we also ate out at the Mikado before hand (I actually order sushi instead of whimping out and getting the teriyaki chicken), which made for a very enjoyable evening.

Last night they had a number of special guests, including a guest concert master, who played on a Stradivarius violin (I would have really liked to hear her play solo, alas she did not); a guest conductor, Gary Kulesha, who conducted his own piece; and pianist Jon Kimura Parker. The program included Bach, Kulesha and Beethoven.

You can learn some very interesting things from reading the concert programs, such as, Beethoven went back and re-wrote the cadenza sections in his piano concertos. The cadenzas we heard last night could never had been played on the piano of 1795, when Beethoven's first concerto (what we heard last night) was originally published.

This is the second interesting thing we learned last night during After Thoughts, a open-panel discussion, which took place after the concert:

At an earlier point in their respective careers both Bill Eddins (conductor of the ESO) and Jon Kimura Parker use science-fiction themes (i.e. movie and television themes) to incorporate into their improvised cadenzas. One of their favourites was Star Trek. However, at one point Jon Kimura Parker was preforming in the Sydney Opera House and decided that the Mozart he was playing was just the right tone to sneak in a little X-Files. He figured, being in Australia, that the X-Files probably weren't all that well known and he could get away with it. As it turns out, at the time the X-Files was the most popular show in Australia and after the concert he had a number of very confused patrons come back stage and want to know if Mozart had written the X-Files theme.

Andrew and I got a kick out of that story. I hope you, dear reader, did too.



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