Blog Roddus

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra - Appalachian to Zappa - St Margaret's Collage, Christchurch 10 September 2016

Classical music is a branch of music I have struggled with over the years. I have made many attempts to learn  to enjoy it more than I do and I think it deserves more of my intention than it gets but I do struggle to stay interested in the extended pieces of romantic symphonies or the more primitive Baroque styles. Sure there are many hugely famous pieces of classical music that are so well known and are very good and I do enjoy in small doses, like Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Beethoven's 5th or Bolero by Ravel, but to be honest I really prefer late 20th century and early 21st  century composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Zorn.
 I was browsing the gig guides for local events recently when somehow I came across some information in regards to the event depicted by the above promo graphic. What really caught my attention was the fact that the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra was going to present Frank Zappa's G-Spot Tornado as part of their concert. This was more than enough to catch my attention in regards to an event that I would normally just pass by. After checking dates and ticket prices etc, I discussed it with the Mrs and it was decided to check it out. She enjoys Classical music in general more than I do.
  We dressed appropriately for the evening and arrived at St Margaret's collage just under 30 minutes before the scheduled starting time. It was being held in the Charles Luney Auditorium, a very impressive new building built after the earthquakes trashed most of the original school.

We settled into our seats on the far right of the Auditorium and waited as the orchestra tuned them selves up and the rest of the audience took their seats.The place was almost full and we felt quite young amongst all the rather grey haired punters sitting around us, although there were some quite young people there also.
 The Orchestra Leader soon came in and settled the orchestra down just before the guest conductor entered and took his position on his rostrum.
 The first piece they played was Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring Suit. This is a reasonably modern composition and I could tell that by the style even though I kinda knew already. It was an enjoyable piece and at one point I imagined a scene out of a western movie as the music was playing, which I think is what it was supposed to invoke. I spent a lot of the piece marvelling at how much easier it was to hear all what was going on in a live setting as opposed to recorded classical music, even though classical music is recorded so well compared to a lot of other music, especially rock. Mrs Roddus and I both enjoyed the piece a lot.
 Next up was some Mozart, piano Concerto No.20 K466 in D minor to be precise. I was not familiar with any of the melodies of this piece but enjoyed it in a live setting to a certain extent, the novelty of seeing this stuff live and the quality of the sound helped a lot but both of us agreed we didn't like it as much as the first piece.
 After intermission, the Conductor gave a short spiel, especially on the next piece, which was  the one I had been waiting for, Zappa's G-Spot Tornado. The orchestra was a lot smaller for this piece with only four or five violinists. I was a little disappointed with the piece to be honest, the violins were getting drowned out a bit by the other louder horns and percussion and I wondered how much better they would have sounded with more of them. The whole thing did sound a little flat though. It is certainly something a little different perhaps for this orchestra, but I don't know enough about their usual repertoire.
 Last piece was another Mozart piece, this time Symphony No. 41, K551 in Cminor, known as Jupiter. Another piece where I did not recognise any of the melodies and although I was enjoying the experience as a whole, this piece I struggled with a bit, although being really tired at the time didn't help. There were some interesting moments I found but I was glad when it finally finished. 
 Overall it was great experience which we both really enjoyed  and i 'll be keeping my eye open to future concerts where they play something I might be interested in.

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