Thursday, January 16, 2014

Scottish drummers and Yo Yo Ma

  Despite all the feel-good platitudes that I'm the only one like me in the world, that doesn't make me anything special. And that's okay. 

But I love to be part of the audience for those who truly are exceptional. Dancers, instrumentalists--there's a rare electricity about live performance. I vicariously exult in the beauty talented people achieve. So I add architects to my favorites list.

Scottish Pipe Band Drummers by Hilary Gaunt
 a photo by Hilary Gaunt on Flickr.
Once I got a free ticket to a student solo drum recital. I thought it would be a dud, but the young man marched onto the stage dressed in formal Scottish kilt and jacket. He looked dashing and the music was astonishing. I couldn't believe the myriad ways he used drumsticks, or the variety of sound he created with a snare drum. 

As an enthusiastic, but unaccomplished violinist, instrumental music is my favorite. How bad I am makes me appreciate how good they are. Forty years ago I attended a symphony concert of Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," conducted by the composer. He was 70, and energetic for a man I considered "elderly." It was a double thrill since it was the first time I heard his music live. Ah, this is what my professor meant by an esthetic experience.

In December I took my granddaughters to the Nutcracker ballet. This was the best of several productions of that ballet I've seen. This time I was struck by the emotions the dancers conveyed, particularly humor. The little girls were captivated by the sets painted on curtains which rolled on stage and off. Em asked "How did they do that?" when the Christmas tree grew and fog rolled across the stage. 

The Denver (Co) Ellie Caulkins Opera House is a work of art in itself. It is a renovated space in a hundred year old building. The opera house's very modern chandelier collapses and disappears into the ceiling at the rise of the curtain.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

We were surprised and delighted that the 
foyer's chandelier
is by Dale Chihuily. My granddaughter studied the glass-blower in her art class, and our family has a personal connection to him (albeit distant and weak!) 

We were pleased that our seats in the first balcony put us close enough to hear the dancer's toe shoes tap on stage. We could peer into the pit and watch the musicians. 

I have a goal to be that close when I finally hear Yo Yo Ma play. I want to sit on the edge of my seat and see his infectious grin pointed at my section of the 
concert hall. I want to be able to see the rosin fly off his bow when he attacks a fortissimo passage. I want to clap until it stings, and joy clogs my throat with  tears.

Oh, yes. 

When was the last time you indulged yourself an exhibit, concert or theater that reminded you of the human potential to create beauty?  Where do you find it? 

Keep an eye out for news of Mr. Ma. I fear I've missed my chance for 2014, but if you hear of something within a 500 mile radius--let me know! 

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