Summer musings about classical concerts
In a previous blog, I told you about two other group members, Michelle and Edel, who love playing compositions by Ludovico Einaudi. In June, I had been planning for our family trip to Ottawa/Montreal for the first week of July and was excited to see that he was, coincidentally, playing at the Montreal Jazzfest. So I bought tickets and my daughter and I went to see him on the night of July 4 at Studio Bell where he sold out 1/3 of the arena - about 6000 fans were there to hear him. They were all totally enthralled with him and he had multiple standing ovations. I was actually very moved by the sight of all the adulation and love they had for him. He had a cellist and violinist on stage with him along with a percussionist and two guitarists. However, music is very personal and his performance did not touch me in the way that other performances have for me . But I have a lot of respect and admiration for him as an artist in that he is bringing classical music to the masses. From that perspective, I agree with all his fans - he is a total rock star!
I am thinking back to the concerts that have enthralled me and the first one that comes to mind was the Brahms concerto #1 in D minor for piano that I attended on September 30, 2017 with Jan Lisiecki playing with the CPO. How I came to attend that concert is a story in itself. I found out, after giving me a piano lesson, that my piano teacher, Kevin, was attending this concert that evening. He went on to tell me that it is his favourite piano concerto. I might as well admit to you all now that, at that time, I was not a classical music fan and that I knew very little about classical music. Kevin knew this about me but he said that if I was interested, this same concert would be played on the following night. He told me that since I was learning classical piano repertoire that it would be a good to attend classical concerts as it would help me in my music studies. I was really curious to hear Kevin's favourite concerto but my husband and I had planned to go to a jazz concert on the following night. However on Saturday morning, my husband decided that he was not in the mood to go to that jazz concert after all. So that was how I found myself sitting in the choir loft looking down on Jan Lisiecki playing the piano on Saturday night. And I kid you not, I was totally entranced with this concert - I was actually on the edge of my seat and being in the choir loft, I was in the perfect position to see Lisiecki play - it was a riveting performance! It totally took me by surprise - I had not anticipated that I would react that way. I can tell you that after that experience, I no longer discount the power of classical music to move you.
The other classical music concert that really surprised me was Yo-Yo Ma’s sold out recital at the Bella Hall on December 8, 2017 at MRU which I was fortunate to get a ticket to. I will admit to you that my mind wandered in the beginning and so badly that I had to ask myself hard questions: "Why was I not really present and paying attention?" "Why did I waste $150 of my hard-earned dollars just to sit there and think of other things?" "YoYo Ma is a master cellist - you probably won't get another chance to hear him again and you are frittering it away!"
So after this stern lecture to myself, I really concentrated on YoYo Ma and what he was trying to convey. I followed him in his labyrinth of music and as long as I followed and concentrated, I was able to hear what he wanted me to hear. It was so beautiful and such an amazing experience! Kevin's words came true - it was after hearing YoYo Ma in concert that I was able to play the piece "Twilight" by Frederick Caton with the dynamics that I wanted. You have to be in the right mind space to enjoy a classical concert. You have to be not stressed and not tired especially if you are listening to Bach (YoYo Ma's repertoire was predominantly Bach that night). So with that concert, I was exposed to so many dimensions of learning. It was really eye-opening!
Most of the other concerts that stand out for me in the past 18 months feature jazz pianists - Harold Mabern, Michael Kaeshammer, Renee Rosnes and most recently in June, John Roney recreating the Keith Jarrett “Koln” concert of 1975. The other really exciting band I heard at the JazzYYC Summer Festival was "Chelsea McBride and the Socialist Night School". I usually don’t like big band sound but I am glad that I followed my curiosity and decided to go and hear them. I was astounded at her genius - her amazing original compositions, her insightful lyrics, her own excellence as a tenor sax player, her leadership and her vision. She is only 26 and she is only going to get better and I am glad I got to hear her and her band at the intimate Bell Studio at the NMC.
Because I feel so much excitement for jazz, I know that my music future lies there. But I am also glad to know that classical music can also instill excitement for me too. Thanks, Kevin, for teaching me this important lesson!