Saturday, October 21, 2006

Days...can't keep track.

So, missed a day in there with giddiness about other good news.  But back on track now.

The first writing workshop was Thursday morning.  It's interesting - I know that these things are for learning, but given how unhappy I was with my work, it was a terrible place to start from.  It's bad enough getting critiqued on things you're proud of, but far worse when you KNOW it sucks, and you have to endure it being picked apart by someone like Justin Davidson of Newsday.  At least his other comments were really interesting, and actually practical - not the generalizing "think bigger", but understanding how to avoid repetitious adjectives, when background is necessary, the importance of crafting a lead, things like that.

Concert that night - Apollo's Fire Baroque ensemble.   Bach vs. Telemann - a battle to the DEATH.  It was actually a neat idea - comparing two composers who have reversed places of importance - back in the 18th century, Telemann was by far the more famous.  It was the first really good performance I've seen here.

It actually got me thinking a bit - New York is almost a mythological city, like Atlantis or Olympus.  It's the center of our conception of what a city should be, and it's difficult for it to live up to those expectations.  I figured that by going to Lincoln Center, I'd be getting the best that music had to offer.  Instead, I was disappointed with both concerts in those spaces.  I guess the advantage here is the sheer volume makes up for any failures in consistency.  The fact that there even WERE 10 concerts for us to go to in 10 days, and handfuls more we could have seen is pretty amazing.

We hit up two more institutions today - Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Penthouse concerts at Lincoln center.  BAM has a great name, and a fabulous, funky feeling to it  - beautiful theaters, interesting architecture, and a real feeling of creativity that was sometimes lacking in the bigger halls.  Sadly, we went there to see Violet Fire, a new multi-media opera about Nikola Tessla.

Now, this might sound like the start to a bad joke, but how do you get 25 music critics to agree on something?  Take them all to a new minimalist multimedia opera bout Nikola Tessla.  It was totally disappointing, and not for any of the dismissive, all 21st century composition stinks kind of ways.  It was confusing, the music was uninspired, the acting only so so, the costuming TERRIBLE (the men and women had these odd bustle things that looked like wire loops with uneven tablecloths draped across, which they kept tripping on).  It was the strangest thing, and pretty much a complete wash, except for 5 minutes at the end when the whole ensemble had it's final moments on stage.   Most everyone in the audience was sleeping, shifting uncomfortably, or LEAVING, which was difficult since they had to get up in the middle with no intermission.  Gah.

But then, wonder of wonders - the Penthouse.  A gorgeous space on the top floor of one of the Lincoln Center campus buildings, this glass walled room looks out on all the lights of the city.  Patrons sit at tables, are offered wine, and listen to a one hour recital starting at about 1045 pm.  It was incredible - Jeremy Denk playing Bach, with the sounds of the city filtering through the glass in such a way that it became part of the music rather than detracting from it.  Car horns fit in with slight grace note embellishments, a siren followed a long glissando, and the wind picked up right at the end of a  tumultuous movement.  It was a magical evening.  

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