Monday, March 13, 2006

hidden sounds, in plain sight

This past weekend Mark Kevin Hall's blog hidden city encouraged readers to turn off the visual noise, take a break from multi-tasking, and listen deeply to some unfamiliar symphonic sounds: Messiaen's tone poem From the Canyons to the Stars. I happened to attend the performance, as a listener rather than a performer - and while I am lucky enough to get to share a stage with the other musicians of the New World Symphony regularly, it was such a pleasure to just sit back and listen to this concert from the audience.

This piece truly has some wondrous sonic surprises, even for the most jaded orchestral veteran - pianistic avian recreations, shimmering glockenspiel riffs, sumptuous string textures, and a spellbinding horn solo which uses to full effect all of that instrument's resonances, along with the piano's innards. Ninety minutes is a long time to sit through a piece of 'modern' classical music, but this particular piece contains enough surprises to merit repeated listenings. I frequently found myself scanning the stage, trying to figure out where a mysterious new sonority had emerged, only to be baffled again in the next moment. I guess sometimes even just listening to a piece of music can feel like multi-tasking.

I didn't catch up with Mr. Hall after the performance, so I will be awaiting his reaction along with his other readers. Hidden City is well worth checking out, for Kevin's amusing, thoughtful, and original takes on all of Miami's curious happenings.

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