Went to the Symphony tonight. (Dad's partner has season tickets, but she's in Nicaragua, and I guess Dad didn't feel like going.) The programme was Beethoven-based (the Eroica, specifically); he's not one of my favorite composers, although I can appreciate his genius abstractly. The *interesting* bit was that they'd held a competition for best new composition by a composer under thirty:* the winner was some dude from Hawaii, who'd written a piece called "Becoming Beethoven": very much in the style of the composer, and loosely themed around the story of Beethoven going deaf. This was perhaps most evident at the beginning, where the orchestra was doing a (very melodious, but still very striking) imitation of the effect of tinnitus. The rest of the performance of it was...odd: it was hard to say, in a number of places, whether the composer was DELIBERATELY doing really weird quasi-counterpoint, or whether the orchestra's timing was off.** If it's the latter, well, that sucks, because it was a really great piece that someone was mucking up.
In between Beethoven-inspired and actual Beethoven, we had Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue': another revolutionary piece, but played and heard so often (including in old Delta commercials) that it feels hackneyed. Kinda like the humor in Holy Grail, I suppose, except that I have a permanent passion for Holy Grail, and don't have strong feelings about Gershwin. So I spent that chunk of the concert reflecting that Gershwin really had no successors, that I'm aware of at least: no one who took American popular music and turned it into symphony. And what would a 21st-century equivalent sound like? If I was to imagine it, I'd go for a full-on symphony, whose movements would refer to the different styles of our musically-fragmented age. Start with a movement of hiphop (what with rappers' tendency to sample everything and anything, an original orchestral composition with a strong percussion beat and someone rapping over it could actually work quite well. For full justice, you'd then somehow have to do movements of Country and Dubstep, but somehow make them not suck; or you could say screw it and just do a movement of literally symphonic metal instead. Throw in something folk-rock infused, for all of the bluegrass, actual folk-rock, singer-songwriter stuff, and other related genres; then maybe finish with more rap (or put the metal HERE). Oh, and you'd have to tie the whole business together thematically and musically. It would be difficult but not, I think, impossible. Pity I'm not a composer.
...So I was not, and am not, doing justice to the Portland Symphony: with the possible exception of "Becoming Beethoven" they played everything very well, and the pianist for Rhapsody was just brilliant, and thoroughly deserved his two callbacks' worth of Dixieland.
Afterwards, I went to Bar of Chocolate, for one last hurrah before Lent. This may have been a mistake. (Also, I need to remember that I have now *had* Tokaji, and do not absolutely need to have that particular odd experience again.)
Also for Lent, I'm giving up non-essential internet use. Blogging does not count, though; so hopefully I'll actually be posting MORE for the next few weeks. Here's hoping.
* and buy, do I feel old and useless now.
** Numerous viola jokes came to mind.