Friday, May 22, 2009

Nostril to Nostril....

that's what the audience and the performers were, at tonight's concert of the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra performing the Bernstein Mass. There was the audience (it was sold out, at the last minute I was able to buy a ticket off an old lady) with extra rows in front of the front row, seats up the stairs, and there were the performers - two choirs, 9 soloists, the orchestra with extra reinforcements. There were loudspeakers - the soloists were miked up (I mean, really, it was a 'classical' music concert), so if anything had short circuited and caught a fire, there would have been deaths. No fire police in Lithuanian concert venues.....

Can't say I care for this piece. It was interesting, far from the traditional mass format I expected; kind of West Side Story meets Sound of Music meets American evangelical preachers.  But what does a yiddishe boy know about goyim music anyway (or vice versa).... The solo singing was more musical style, with singers who I had never seen before, apart from one opera house singer who had about two lines to sing. They were very very good, though. There was even a boy soprano, poor soul, he had to wear a virgin-white suit - at the beginning he was far from the class in which he would have been allowed to sing a solo in a British choir school (we don't have that tradition here, and it shows), but he got better at the end. It was really rather corny, though, the way in which, at the end, he joined the main part (narrator, priest kind of role) and seemed to walk off into the sunset. The narrator singer was really, really good at what he did - it's just that American evangelical preachers make me want to vomit. I mean, religion is something sacred, not something to be folksy or happy-clappy about. To me, anyway.  Perhaps I should treat it as ironic....  And what did it have to do with narcotics? That word flashed up on the Lithuanian translation screen - something like 'keep me taking from narcotics'. Bernstein would know, I suppose.

Some weird stuff about this performance; there were bits in which taped music was played. Was that intended by Bernstein, was the band unable to play these bits,  or did they not have time to rehearse these?  The percussion, Pavelas Giunteris and many colleagues, had a field day. The rest of the orchestra did not play, most of the time - it was nearly always only ever sections of the band.

It was very interesting in an appalled sort of way, but I felt severely tempted to go and leave, whether Mr President was there or not. But it was 1 hour 40 minutes of uninterrupted music, and there was nothing I could do....That's one I can tick off now.


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