Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Running in late, I must take in the wonder of Avery Fisher Hall more briskly than preferred. I dash up to the fifth floor, only to find that I must miss the Philharmonic‘s first song. Luckily, a large screen is provided showing the concert live. I wait on the outskirts of the very top level in the concert hall. When I am finally allowed in, I am disappointed to find I have missed the first of four songs, thus missing one quarter of the show. Yet my anguish is soon abated as I am stunned by the following number.
John Adams’s The Wound-Dresser begins. This is the first and only piece to include a vocal part, naturally making the music that much more relatable. Further, the lyrics are in English. The lyrics are given, translating through the barrier of operatic singing. This is not a long aria; it is a contemporary piece. The words are those of Walt Whitman as recorded in his collection Specimen Days, an account of the Civil War.
The phrasing is made very clear, musically manifested as a series of unconnected lines. [click to continue….]
Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage drew many crowds because of its familiarity, but gains little praise for its poor quality. The Shotgun Players had landed a nice venue at Abrons Arts Center: Henry Street Settlement. They still failed to match its class. The great level of entertainment albeit makes up for its weakness otherwise. Peoples that are not well-learned of the theatre should have little complaints.
The classic tale goes as such: A beast named Grendel regularly comes to kill and eat the men of the king’s castle. His strength is superior to that of all the military men, so they are all easily murdered. In desperation, the king calls for Beowulf, the mighty hero. Beowulf strips to bareness boldly, fights and eliminates the monster. Grendel’s loving mother soon after unleashes her wrath, but the great warrior defeats her in battle. He is crowned their leader, and remains an idol past his death (in battle against a dragon).
This modern production seeks to “dumb down” or overly simplify the great epic poem of Beowulf. [click to continue….]
After stepping into the Church of Holy Trinity, angelic intonations ensue. One can close the eyes and be almost moved to sleep by the relaxing music. The auspicious acoustics of the church help the amateur choir’s tone. The large, brown, dull room is brightened by stained glass windows of blue and green combined with the sonorousness of the New Amsterdam Singers. The seats appear to be filled, so it is a struggle to see from the back. The concert hall was quiet and serious as all ears perked up to listen. Little or no movement or sounds are made in this professional environment. [click to continue….]