When I found out I would be flying to New York for a friend’s wedding happening in March, one of the the first things I did (after booking a plane ticket) was look up what shows were happening during my stay.
Having only been to New York a couple of times beforehand, all that I knew about the shows there were from reading articles, listening to live streams of Philharmonic concerts, and watching movies and television.
Lincoln Center was my first thought – the famed Avery Fisher Hall, home to the history NY Philharmonic and led by great conductors such as Gustav Mahler, Leonard Bernstein, and Arturo Toscanini (to name a few). The New York Philharmonic was taking a break that certain week but I realized that the famed Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic would happen to be winding out their World Tour at Lincoln Center.
The program for the evening consisted of the following pieces:
DEBUSSY: La Mer
STRAVINSKY: The Firebird (complete)
‘Zipangu” was an interesting modern piece by Canadian composer, Claude Vivier. From a Music Design perspective, I would never include something as seemingly dissonant and sparse for any in-store programming. The very reason that I wouldn’t put this piece in a retail environment is the same reason why I absolutely love live performances of pieces such as this one. The unfamiliar phrasing and chord progressions made the audience uncomfortable and uneasy – one could audibly feel the tension in the hall as the piece progressed. There’s just something tense and real about those types of performances.
Debussy’s La Mer, translated to English as “The Sea” was an atmospheric wonder. The orchestra was seated differently from the familiar arrangement of cellos on the outside and 2nd violins on the inside beside the 1st violins. The 2nd violins were seated on the outside, while the cello section was seated beside the 1st violins, with the bass section behind them. Noticeably, the sound from the orchestra was more even-keeled and rounder.
For the finale piece, the entire Firebird Suite was performed and Dudamel, along with the LA Philharmonic, did not disappoint. Dudamel kept the same arrangement of the orchestra seating, which provided a vibrantly lush rendition of the extremely familiar and dynamically rich piece. The highs and lows of Dudamel’s interpretation even garnered an unexpected bravos and applause within the “Infernal Dance” – one of the most recognized portions of the work. As a long time self-admitted classical nut, I admit that I was one of the many that applauded, even though in the classical world clapping during the middle of a piece is a HUGE no-no. The buildup was just too intense and wonderfully exciting to ignore – and all of this being conducted by memory!
This might have been one of my favorite concerts that I have ever been to. Witnessing the genius of Gustavo Dudamel live and in-the-flesh, in one of the most historic and storied halls, performing a diverse repertoire which included such a beloved piece as “The Firebird” – it was the perfect storm to create classical sonic satisfaction.
– Submitted by Janica Quach, Music Design