It is Saturday March 1 2008 and I have woken with an excited feeling in my stomach. Today, I am being treated to something I have never experienced before and I am looking forward to what is in store. My father, is taking me to a classical concert. I am 18 years old and big band music is not really my style, I appreciate music but of the modern variety rather than the old school kind. My father loves classical music and plays it constantly in his study. His favourite composer is Leonard Bernstein so it is today, with great animation, he is taking me to encounter his love of this music.
We are attending the Waukegan Concert Chorus which is at 624 Douglas Ave, Illinois, the concert is a tribute to Bernstein & Williams; namely, In Remembrance of Bernstein & Williams. My father assures me that although my liking of music may not be to his taste, I will go away from the concert feeling uplifted and appreciative of what I have heard. Our journey takes us to Waukegan during the early evening and as we approach the venue I can feel a buzz in the air. Other attendees are heading towards the seating area and as my father and I locate where we are sitting, I am somewhat satisfied that we have seats near to the front.
My father explained in the car, on the way, even though it is the music you are listening to, it is also just as important to watch the performance. Before me is a huge orchestra; perhaps the biggest I have ever seen, not that I have seen many. There is a plethora of various noises coming from the ensemble and as each musician tunes in their instrument and plays small excerpts from their music stand, it is perhaps unbelievable that any kind of harmony will occur at all. However, the moment the conductor enters the room, there is an eerie silence, almost as if someone had turned the musicians off by a control button.
The conductor is a gentleman who turns to his audience and bows his head, turning and repeating this gesture to his orchestra. As the first piece of music is played I feel myself vibrating with the enormity of the noise. For many years I have heard my father’s classical records being played from behind the study door but to be present at a live performance was truly exhilarating. One of my favourites in terms of familiarity was West Side Story. The introduction sounded amazing; upbeat and vibrant, the instruments seemed almost alive. Even closing my eyes, which I actually did, I could hear each piece of equipment as it was used.
The brass and woodwind instrumentalists brought intrigue and manoeuvre to the story of the piece being played whilst the drums added the extra element of spirit in the arrangement. Despite the variety of instruments played and the different roles they played within the piece, the unity came together with such an intensity, I was taken aback by its impact. The formation and structure of the concert allowed me to lose myself within the music, it was almost as if I were watching the musical itself. This perhaps was the purpose of the concert itself, it worked with an effortless outcome.
As the flutes and violins played ‘I Feel Pretty’, I felt almost compelled to stand up and sing as the notes poured through the air. The tempo was light in places and amplified in others; the exaggeration of drama was as apparent as the subtlety of tenderness applied to the nature of the story. Its volume was deafening yet tolerable as each instrument alerted itself naturally within the composition. On occasion I did look around at other spectators, like moths to a flame, transfixed faces and total satisfaction and appreciation of what was before and around them.
I did relate to this. As the concert came to an end, I did feel somewhat saddened that it was all over. The climax of the music was a crescendo of brilliance and I am pleased to say, my father’s original prediction of how I would feel, was absolutely correct. I felt euphoric and inspired by such a performance. I had attended the concert with an open mind and allowed myself to absorb the instruments intentions; I felt all the raw emotions of West Side Story and even the pieces of music played I had heard for the first time, still brought me a sense of appreciation.
Courtney from Study Moose
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