I have been waiting for classical music to find its audience in our modern world and often wonder when and if the Facebook, Moveon.org, iphone culture of today will affect the experience of going to a classical concert.
How can the more cerebral experience of a classical concert compete with 3D movies? When we are accustomed to being bombarded by action images and surround sound it feels really old fashioned to sit still and listen to classical music. So, you can imagine how pleased I was last Saturday night when I attended the benefit concert for the Stamford Symphony performed at the Marriott Hotel, a concert that was exciting, exhilarating and fun.
Working with a theme of Gypsy Rhapsody, the nine professional musicians led by conductor/pianist Eckart Preu, played music from Hungary, one of the main sources of “gypsy music”. They performed a lively czardas, a traditional dance that can be traced back to the 18th century Hungarian verbunko that was originally used as a recruiting dance by the Hungarian army. The program also included unusual titles such as “Parade of the House Elves” or “Venetian Gondolas” that were at times haunting, funny and boisterous.
While this music was indeed wonderful, the whole experience was made more engaging for a classical beginner like me, thanks to the wonderful repartee between Eckart Preu, the conductor, and Erica Kiesewetter, the solo violinist who boldly dressed the part wearing hoop earrings, a cropped top and a long skirt bejeweled with bells. Before playing each piece, Eckart and Erica chatted about where they found these little known works (one time it was in an old box in someone’s basement) or what emotion they evoked. They had friendly disagreements that introduced questions about the music that gave the listener a way to connect in a more active way.
To a classical neophyte, this was a true gift, one that I hope to get again. So, with the winter weather approaching, remember the terrific orchestras that we have here in Connecticut. Many have weekend matinees and terrific children’s programs. I’ve listed the Fairfield County symphony websites below.
Greater Bridgeport Symphony, www.bridgeportsymphony.org
Greenwich Symphony Orchestra, www.greenwichsym.org
Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, www.norwalksymphony.org
Stamford Symphony, www.stamfordsymphony.org