variations within a concert 

Some friends of ours have season tickets to the Grand Rapids Symphony. They weren’t able to go today so they offered the tickets to Pam and me.

The tickets were Mezzanine, which apparently means upstairs, in the center of the front row. We had a great view of the orchestra and the sound was outstanding. We’d known that our friends had these seats and were thrilled to try them out.

The title of the performance was “Brass and Variations”.

In the first half of the performance the orchestra was joined with a brass quintet named Axiom Brass. The works performed were academically interesting to me but not the type that makes me think “Oh gods! This is beautiful!” However, the Bach piece was very enjoyable, both academically and aesthetically.

The second half of the performance had two pieces. The first one was written by Avner Dorman and titled “Variations without a Theme”. The conductor brought Dorman out to discuss the work briefly. Dorman talked about how he was stuck for a theme for his variations piece and decided to abandon the theme entirely. He continued to talk about how clever it was and finally handed the microphone back to the conductor who then performed the piece.

In my native dialect, the word “pure” is pronounced with 2 syllables. It rhymes with sewer or you could try saying “pewter” without the ‘t’. The reason I bring this up is that “Variations without a Theme” was “pewer shite”. It had all sorts of cacophonous (from the Greek: sounds like shit) surprises. The work seemed to be more about showing how clever the writer was than entertaining anyone.

Elgar’s “Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (Enigma Variations)” made up for Dorman’s stuff. It had all the stuff that makes folks want to keep listening to classical music. This time I stopped the academic interest thing and just enjoyed the work.

It even made me think “Oh gods! This is beautiful!”


Program for the performance:

BERNARD RANDS Adieu [Midwest Premiere]
J.S. BACH Contrapunctus VII
EGEA Fantasia Flamenca [Midwest Premiere]
LUTOSLAWSKI/ARR. HARVEY Paganini Variations
Intermission
AVNER DORMAN Variations Without a Theme
ELGAR Variations on an Original Theme, Enigma

 

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