Sunday, February 21, 2010

Got Me Some Culture

I went to the symphony last night for the first time in more than fifteen years. Blues, country and rock are my usual favorite genres but I like classical music too.

This performance was not by just any ordinary orchestra. It was the National Symphony Orchestra performing at the world-famous Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.

The first half of the program began with Requiem for Icarus, a contemporary composition by Lera Auerbach.

The reason I chose this night was next: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor. My friend Eliz got me interested in this work and when I saw it on the schedule I knew I had to see it live. I wish I could have shared this with her. Maybe next time.

Pianist Denis Matsuev was incredible. He got a long standing ovation, came back to take a bow 3 times, then did an encore (I think it was Marriage of Figaro) and received another standing ovation and returned for bows two more times.

I learned later that Rachmaninoff himself perform this work with the National Symphony Orchestra in 1940, thirty-nine years after he composed it and three years before his death.



The second half of the program was Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 in F Minor. I must know more about classical music than I thought because I recognized this as soon as it began. Another powerful performance!! Bravo!

This was my fourth visit to the Kennedy Center in the 26 years I’ve lived around here but the first time I paid attention to the incredible acoustics. I am used to hearing music by way of microphones, amplifiers and speakers. As far as I could tell, this was totally real, unamplified, unprocessed, beautiful sound.

The whole Kennedy Center experience is wonderful. There is a Concert Hall, an Opera House and at least two other performing spaces, and something was scheduled in each last night. Yet it never felt crowded. There are two restaurants and a bar on the rooftop and several bar stations in the enormous lobby. An exterior plaza running the length of the building overlooks the Potomac River and even on a cold night with snow still lining the edges, it was still worth walking outside and taking in the view.

I will not wait another fifteen years to have a night like this again. Mozart, my favorite, is on the bill next week. Hmmm.

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