Monday, January 28, 2013

Musical Life after Death Metal

Readers who just want a concert review get to be first in line; RantWoman invites everyone to hang in there as well for digressions about gizmo fantasy and ever-topical reflections on travelling the mean streets.

The travelling party this time: RantWoman, RantMom, and a Church Lady Friend of RantMom's. One of Church lady Friend's many admirable traits is that she not only listens to RantMom and RantWoman trade off about rant duties, she inexplicably finds the experience delightful enough for repeat encounters. Another is that she loves the symphony as much as the Rant women!

RantWoman found last week's Vancouver Symphony concert absolutely delightful. The concert featured a full orchestra, conductor Bramwell Tovey, composer Edward Top, and pianist Jon Kimura Parker with special appearance by a percussion instrument called The Wall of Noise and a portable siren. As Bramwell said, this symphony comes to visit about once a century or so and RantWoman hopes they feel very welcome.

The opening work was only the third performance ever of a work by composer in residence Edward Top. The movements of the opening work, Totem were Angst, Rite, Mosh. The intent was definitely percussive; there was plenty of tonal interest as well. Mr. Topper's idea of Angst pushed RantWoman's concept of the topic in whole new sonic directions; RantWoman had trouble extracting clear rite from the second movement but found the idea of death metal grown up from mosh pit to full symphony delightfully reassuring.

RantWoman thanks the pre-performance words from Mr. Tovey for the information that the woman playing the Wall of Noise spent six years at Juliard to be qualified to play the Wall of Noise; RantWoman thanks RantMom and Church Lady Friend for the information that part of the time, the wall of noise was played with the percussionist's rear end.

Did the Rant party mosh and crowd-surf? Um, no. Did anyone else? Not that RantWoman noticed.

RantWoman sometimes finds Grieg a little too contemplative, but Jon Kimura Parker's performance of the Grieg piano concerto just sparkled. An encore "for those whose taste in television is as bad as Parker's" made RantWoman grin. Rounding out the program was a Prokofiev symphony, rich and more mellow than some other works and realized lushly by the large touring orchestra.

As an aside, RantWoman wonders, can professional musicians tell a difference between playing in one venue and playing in another? RantWoman's high school career as a classical musician featured a certain number of orchestra tours. Except for the home auditorium, either on stage or in the orchestra pit, though, the performance venues were better known for compatibility with basketball than design with attention to music. RantWoman hopes it felt like a treat for the visitors to play at Benaroya.

Now a confession: RantWoman dutifully silenced her phone. Then while RantWoman was scraping her eyeballs over a bit of the program notes, a fantasy arose. RantWoman aspires to own a Smartphone. If she did, what if there were a program notes ap?

Backing up just a few steps further, Church Lady Friend picked up RantMom and then RantWoman. RantWoman suggested we try the Judkins Street Cafe.Church Lady Friend has already tried it and raved enthusiastically. RantMom though had a sense of traffic, of wanting to get to the concert on time. Okay. Save the Judkins St. Cafe for another night and just dine at Puck's in the lobby of Benaroya.

RantMom appears to have been prescient. First there was construction on Jackson. Then there were a couple ways to make wrong turns downtown. RantWoman HATES traffic. RantWoman was enjoying conversation but despaired of any more contributions to extra time in traffic. Then finally, the parking garage, dinner, coffee, and time for tourism at the University St. station right under the lobby of Benaroya. Turns out Church Lady thinks she and a grandson visited there on the opening day of Light Rail, but conversation flowed to the possibility actually of coming downtown on the light rail on concert nights.

RantMom and RantWoman are transit pros and the Benaroya is close enough to transit heaven for our standards. Church Lady Friend lives right on the 107 route to the light rail, but she is not charmed by the thought possibly of waiting up to 1/2 hour near the station for a bus home. The RantWomen are used to the bus, but that seems oh a bit much for Church Lady Friend RantWoman finds herself trying to brainstorm parking options near light rail stations. This is completely swimming against the tide as far as the city of Seattle's desire that parking be extremely limited around light rail stations. Tough! Stay tuned.

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