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Topic: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

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  1. #1

    My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    On Friday night, I had my first chance to attend a live orchestra, so I thought I'd write a little review of my experience. It was the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the program included Prokofiev's Symphony No 1, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No 1, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 6.

    I was able to get a free ticket to the orchestra since I am a student at the college the performance was held. And with all the tuition I am paying, I certainly deserved it! When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was that most of the people there were old people. I certainly have nothing against old people, but with students able to get free tickets, why didn't more students come? I felt left out as the old people enjoyed wine, for alas, I am too young to legally drink alcohol.

    I walked into the concert hall and took my seat, near the middle but off to the side, where I could clearly see the violin players. Before the performance started, I felt bad for a woman in front of me who had decided to bring her baby. Perhaps she thought the baby would sleep, but of course it cried loudly instead. After much of the crowd stared at her meanly, she left with her baby and I didn't see her come back. Next to me sat two fellow students, however they seemed to think the symphony was the right place to show their affection for one another. I guess they finally got bored of the music, becuase they didn't show up for any of the other pieces after the first.

    The first piece, Prokofiev's Symphony No 1, was played perfectly. The sound of a real live orchestra sounds a lot better than anything you can do on a computer. I think that's mostly because of the limits of computer speakers. At a live orchestra, the entire sound seems to surround you; it's an awesome experience.

    The second piece, Shostokavich, was also played wonderfully. I'm not a big fan of the modernists, but when you actually see a guy playing that concerto, it adds another dimension to the performance, and you'll never be able to do that with a computer. I also noticed people like to save their coughs until those short moments of silence between each piece.

    The final piece, Tchaikovsky, was awesome. Superb. Excellent. With cymbals and loud brass, I don't know how people can do it! It really put all my work to shame.

    Next, on Nov 13, the Dresden Philharmonic play Beethoven's Symphony No 7! I love getting free tickets!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  2. #2
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    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    Thanks for the review, Sean. I don't get to see live orchestral concerts as much as I would like, but I believe for those of us working (or in my case klutzing) with sample libraries, etc., it's a very good thing to experience the real McCoy, and to do so as often as possible.

    I know that when I finally saw a university performance of The Magic Flute, I was able to connect with the music in a way I never could have by merely listening to recordings or watching a DVD. The choices by those 3 Russian composers seem to me to constitute an excellent, tight little set.

    It's most certainly worthwhile to go when one can, crying babies or no.

  3. #3

    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    HI Sean,

    Thanks for sharing with us. ( you kept your word from Fridays chat )

    THis is a great way to start my sunday morning. Although I wasn't there I can share the experience through your words. Isn't a live orchestra great? It helps us strive for more excelence in our writing and mastering. Very inspiring indeed.


    You must attend the next concert. The Beethoven 7th is awsome.
    The Allegreto, second movement? really flips my wig! The way he builds with instrumentation, harmony and rythm are astounding.

    Hmmmmm, maybe I should do a mock up of it? No I better not. I do not think I could do it justice with the expresion required to pull it off.

    Any way, thanks for the review. The audience discription is intertianing and shows how people have become lacsidaisicl toward the arts. Do not fear though. There are plenty of young people enjoying good music and have been taught or realise theatre ettiquet.

    Heres to the future of music.
    88fingers
    (The Nut )

    www.waveav8.com

  4. #4

    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    Great report! Understand that where you sit has alot to do with the sound you hear. I'm sure you already know that. I would have to say that duplicating a real orchestra with a computer is impossible next to the live sound of real players, unless that computer was used to record those real players. But if there was to be a comparison, the computer's version would certainly have to play through quite a larger speaker system than a pair of cheap or even expensive computer speakers. I know what you're saying though.
    With all due respect for real players.... as far as recordings go, I feel the old saying still applies,
    you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all of the people, all the time.
    I would say this, try your best to remember what it sounded like, and do whatever you have to do with your computer renditions to give other listeners a similar experience. I'm glad you went Oh yea, the fact that alot of the players were older folks, only indicates that the person in charge of hiring players picks the ones with the most experience (and talent) of course..
    compare that here, most of the great stuff with GPO is done by folks that have been "doing it" longer

  5. #5

    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    Wow, The St. Petersburg and Dresden Phils!! You're getting a chance to see some top-flight touring orchestras. Very cool!

    Hmmm, So the Russian group played an all Russian bill and the German group is playing Beethoven. Is it luck?

  6. #6

    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    Oh, my, I left out one the main things: the conductor! Seeing that guy in action is something you don't really see a lot. Maybe little pieces in the media (or the GPO logo), but just watching him was cool, as his movements were reflected in the music.

    Also, I would recommend becoming familiar with the pieces before you go to an orchestra. I found the music much more enjoyable after I knew what exactly to expect (although on the CD I was listening to, Yo-Yo Ma was playing the solo cello in the concerto, and the man on Friday wasn't Yo-Yo Ma, and I could definitely hear a difference, not a bad difference, but a difference).

    Quote Originally Posted by 88fingers
    You must attend the next concert. The Beethoven 7th is awsome.
    The Allegreto, second movement? really flips my wig! The way he builds with instrumentation, harmony and rythm are astounding.
    Yes, I love the second movement! It is powerful, melodious, kind of hard to describe what emotion it evokes, seems to evoke all of 'em!

    Quote Originally Posted by DPDAN
    I would say this, try your best to remember what it sounded like, and do whatever you have to do with your computer renditions to give other listeners a similar experience.
    I'll try, but attending an orchestra is really a rather humbling experience, if you know what I mean. It just amazes you. It makes you listen to the music differently, it really gets you into it so that nothing is distracting you. I just sat there and focused on each player I could see at a time, and during the concerto, all eyes are on the soloist (I heard a celeste playing the concerto, but couldn't find it on stage . . . strange).

    Quote Originally Posted by DPDAN
    Oh yea, the fact that alot of the players were older folks, only indicates that the person in charge of hiring players picks the ones with the most experience (and talent) of course..
    Well, I meant there were a lot of old people attending the concert. I was one of the only ones without gray hair (and I have red hair, so I probably stuck out) On the way out, one guy even recognized me because he knew my father
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  7. #7
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    Free tickets are wonderful. When I was in the Army, on Staten Island, I got many free tickets, had plenty of opportunity to experience Carnegie Hall, The Met, Lincoln Center, and Broadway theaters. Grab them every chance you get. Later, you will have to pay for them!

    My first live orchestra was about 1960, Bernstein conducting the NY Philharmonic from the piano, Beethoven's Piano Concerto Nr. 1, in a Band Shell in a park, Waikiki, I think. This was followed a week or two later by the Vienna Philharmonic, doing Franck's D minor Symphony, and The Blue Danube (!). That's when I found out what a Strauss waltz should sound like. The venue was hardly the best. The orchestra was situated on what looked like a wrestling ring, under a blazing sign advertising a cheap whiskey. Wonder what Karajan thought about that?

    Richard Wayland

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    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    This is something that everyone should experience. I went to the Illinois Symphony chamber concert Friday night myself and I find it a great inspiration everytime I go. The sense of stereo that you get in a live hall from all the instrument hitting your ear from all the different angles, distances, and time make it an all-engulfing experience. My dad has had season tickets for several years now and it is primarily how I learned how an orchestra is organized to create the sound that it does. I prefer the chamber concerts just because I can be seated within 6 feet of the 1st chair violin and the venue is a church with a completely open-span, 40' tall cathedral cieling. The ambience is out of this world. At the begining of last year's Christmas concert, the conductor ( a floutist herself ) and two other flute players emerged from the back of the room. One on each side of the room and one in the middle, playing an arrangement of silent night as they slowly walked through the audience to the front of the room. It was amazing. Karen Lynn Deal is the conductor and she has tripled the audience size of the ISO in the few years that she has been in charge of the program. She is very passionate in the way she conducts which is reflected by the playing of the orchestra. She also addresses the audience with history and personal comments about the composers of which they are playing. She also makes jokes and loosens up the audience a bit. It is, as a whole, an incredible experience. Everyone should have it.

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    Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    My wife to get tickets for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for 25% of the full ticket price when she was a student. We'd get these great tickets for usually about $7 each. We were also about the youngest folks in attendance! I really enjoy the etiquette for these concerts. Too bad rock concerts aren't like that. It made really hate going to rock concerts where most of the folks think they have to get up every few minutes to get another drink or go to the bathroom (from drinking to much beer).

    Haven't checked out the Phoenix Symphony since moving out to Arizona. Sounds like something nice to do without the kids!

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    Exclamation Re: My first trip to a live orchestra . . .

    Live stuff is wonderful, Sean, but may be going the direction of the dinosaurs. I think the live sound that you sound enticing was, in large part, the ambience of the hall and, as you said, it seemed to envelop you.

    Multi-channel reproduction systems can do that well, too. I am just starting to collect SACDs (super-audio CDs) which feature discrete 6-channel sound (not anywhere near as compressed as Dolby Digital 5.1 or -- to a lesser compression -- DTS). The results are sparkling and wonderful even in a relatively modest home system. Hopefully, I will start mastering to 6-channel soon as I designed the audio chain that I'm working with (M-Audio Firewire 410 and a 6-channel amp and speakers) to work with Cubase SX's 6-channel mastering. I'm sure there will be a lot of future discussion on that as more and more folks get into it.

    On Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony ("Pathetique"). The Ken Russel film "The Music Lovers" (Richard Chamberlain and Glenda Jackson) would give credit to Tchaikovsky's brother Modeste for giving the piece the title. Unfortunately, the film is only available on VHS, so I haven't seen it since I once had a LaserDisc version. (Amazing how many "classic" films -- this one came out in 1970 -- haven't made it to DVD yet.)

    All distractions aside, I hope that you get to hear many more live performances.

    KevinKauai

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