It's about expectation

| No TrackBacks

When you expect something to be amazing, and then it is amazing, you're impressed to a moderate degree. When, however, you have no advance expectations, or even moreso when you expect something to be mediocre, then there's a particular kind of "blown away," occasionally involving dizziness and/or elation.

This evening, at the Berkeley Symphony, I had the pleasure of being impressed twice in one concert. First by minimalist composer John Adams's Shaker Loops, which I expected to be good, and second by new conductor Joana Carneiro, whom I didn't know much about, and whom I expected to be pretty mediocre. Wow, was I wrong about her.

To begin with her hugest accomplishment, I've never seen a Beethoven Symphony played with such electricity. Crisp is too gentle a word for how together the orchestra played. Except for two hiccups, the orchestra was locked in not just with each other, but with Ms. Carneiro, the source of the electricity (and a hundred other emotions). From my seat on the side in the very first row, I had the experience of watching Ms. Carneiro's face as she conducted. Her face, I realized afterward, was the reason that the orchestra was able to play Beethoven's Fifth with such vibrant life. She was apparently feeling real emotions about the piece, and the orchestra had no choice but to mirror those emotions. From deep sadness to infuriated anger, and everything in between, she gave the music the character that other conductors (that I've seen) have left by the wayside. Sure, the orchestra twice got de-synchronized, when Ms. Carneiro's gestures got a little too adventurous, but it was worth it to see such a passionate and expressive performance. Indeed, I always prefer an exciting performance to a technically perfect one, and I challenge the musicality of anyone who disagrees.

At intermission, I met John Adams as he walked back to his seat. He signed my program, which was an incredible thrill. He also brushed past my knees as he hopped onstage after Shaker Loops. OMG It was so insanely cool! But as soon as I knew he was there, I'd expected it to be cool. Ms. Carneiro caught me completely off-guard with the magic of her performance, and that was the most impressive part of the evening.

EDIT: The symphony's Executive Director introducted their "Music in the Schools" pins as an excellent last-minute gift for Hanukkah or Christmas, in that order. Legit!

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: