I had never been to Symphony Hall. Thursday night’s Boston Symphony Orchestra concert was a revelation on many levels, not the least of which is the almost unbelievable acoustics in that storied hall. We sat in the first balcony (I will never understand people who like to sit on orchestra level for almost anything…), and the sound was immediate, warm, clear and resonant at the same time.
I was also struck by how important narrative is to me, especially when the story I’m being told is new. Harbison’s Symphony No. 5 includes three different poems circling the Orpheus & Eurydice myth, and a quick 2-minute skimming before the concert began proved enough for me to be able to track almost all of the text during the performance. What would’ve probably been an intriguing but probably variable and jerky experience with a piece that was new to me turned into an equally intriguing but less jarring journey. Sadly, my mind goes too many places when left to its own devices. Some of those places are irritatingly technical/professional topics concerning stupid things like dynamics, texture, architecture, orchestration, balance, etc. Given a story to follow, words to chew on, characters to explore… the noisy chatter inside my head dies down a bit. Guess that’s why I produce opera instead of concerts, eh? :)
(Above, mezzo-soprano Fiona Murphy and baritone Alex Tall in our 2006 production of Telemann’s Orpheus)