May 03, 2005

A concert

Last Friday night, I went to a concert of the Knox Chamber Singers. Highlights of the evening were when a student, Kira Horel, conducted two songs (and usual director Laura Lane was seen to be singing in the choir, amusingly), and when, after an intermission, they performed P.D.Q. Bach's The Seasonings.

It was neat to see someone conduct what I assume was her first concert ever. Although her beat was precise, you could tell she wasn't really used to giving multiple cues with her other hand; she kind of managed, but mostly just kept the baton beating while looking at the people she needed to cue. (She also probably should have picked a better dress to wear---sleeveless and with a slit down the leg doesn't work very well with a constantly moving arm and a slightly bent knee.) But overall she, ah, conducted herself well up there; I would think she'd be a bundle of nerves, but you could never tell.

The second song she conducted was "Mangwani M'pulele", billed as being in "traditional Sotho", by which I guess they mean Sesotho, unless there's another African language of that name running around. My main observation on that song was that all this music theory I'm taking must be sinking in, because all I could think was, "that's a I-vi-V-I progression!"

The featured piece of the evening was "The Seasonings", reconfirming my belief that PDQ Bach is one of the most brilliant composers of the 20th century. It probably seems like it would be easy to write for kazoo and slide whistle, but it strikes me that it would be even harder to write something that could be performed on them and still sound musical. And it did---the whole piece is very humorous, but this is because the composer knew what he was doing and how to spoof the form. And coming up with an instrument like the "tromboon"---a trombone with a reed mouthpiece that presumably came from a bassoon---that's a good bit of thinking outside the box, and you'd be surprised how well it blends with a pair of slide whistles and a pair of kazoos. And a tuba.

"I think the understanding of the word 'belief' that puts it in tension with reason is born of luddites and politicians attempting to thump their Bibles to support an unreasonable agenda on the one hand, and three centuries of academically authoritative atheist reactionaries willing to neglect all religion on the other. Neither are contributing much to the improvement of religious practice in this world." --Jonathan Prykop

Posted by blahedo at 12:40am on 3 May 2005
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