I believe I, who is further right of 50 than the rest of you Write Side of 50 contributors, has earned the right to say that getting old has its challenges. That being said, there are some perks I would not give up – such as being able to indulge all my passions for live performance in all its forms, be it at early-morning rehearsals, middle-of-the-day concerts, and every once in a while, an evening gala.
Give me human flesh over digital synthesis any day, and I am in a good mood! So I attend a lot of New York Philharmonic concerts. Here’s a short synopsis of what thrilled me, and what I truly believe will thrill anyone, on the right or left side of 50:
The Philharmonic’s final concert of the fall season was its magnificent performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” Along with the full orchestra, the Westminster Choir belted out music that soared through the Avery Fisher auditorium.
Then there was the gala opening concert with the cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, who played Osvaldo’ Golijov’s, “Azul”, which had been written just for him. That, combined with a series of tangos by Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla, made it a double-header afternoon.
I had never heard of Piazzolla before (he was an Argentinian tango composer), and this was my first time having the privilege to hear Yo-Yo Ma. I do not know if any of you have ever watched him play. It is not merely his technical virtuosity of working his bow, and the cello’s strings, but his face and body. Nothing is sacrificed to make music.
One piece of music that will be on my list of favorites for ever and ever is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Not just because it is one of the greatest symphonies ever written, but because it will always connect me to my late husband, who cherished this work above all others. So this season, when I saw that Alan Gilbert was conducting his first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, I absolutely had to get a ticket. Again, none of my many recordings of the Ninth compare to experiencing the genius of this symphony played by the New York Philharmonic, and sung by the symphonic chorus of the Manhattan School of Music, including the outstanding soloists.
And in between I caught a little popular music- Thus sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss (better known to us peasants as the music for the movie,”A Space Odyssey”), and a little romance via Strauss’s, “Don Juan”, which featured the retiring concert master and violinist, Glenn Dicterow. The music was beautiful, and beautifully interpreted.
I can hardly await the winter and spring season!