Monday, March 7, 2011

How to get to Carnegie Hall

My husband has been saying for a long time that he would like to hear a really good orchestra (as opposed to the ones I generally play with!). We were in New York last week for a business meeting late on Tuesday afternoon, and the meeting was only a couple of blocks from Carnegie Hall, so we decided to go to the Philadelphia Orchestra concert that happened to be scheduled for that evening.

Now, I have been to Carnegie Hall and poked my head in the door but never heard a concert in the main venue there -- just in the recital hall upstairs. (Actually, I've even performed in the recital hall, with a chamber ensemble.) We got seats in the balcony, which is up many flights of stairs and much less expensive than seats lower down, but it was great up there. We had a panoramic view of the stage, and the sound was wonderful -- clear and warm.

The program was Berlioz, Beatrice and Benedict overture; a world premiere violin concerto by James MacMillan, with Vadim Repin; and Tchaikovsky, Fifth Symphony. After the overture, my husband whispered to me, "I can't believe how good they are." And of course it was all perfect -- perfectly together, perfectly in tune, perfect solos. An orchestra like this is like a jewel in a velvet box, like a priceless painting in a museum. All of its members -- cream of the crop, best of the best; talent plus years of lessons plus winning out in fierce competition to get there. And the hall a legend itself, a cozy, creamy, gilded, and red velvet nest in the middle of Manhattan, kept alive through corporate philanthropy. And yes, I enjoyed hearing this concert, but it also seemed like something unconnected with the real world. And I had no burning desire to play in a group like that. (A good thing, too, or I'd be living an extremely unhappy life.)


Anonymous said...

"A good thing, too, or I'd be living an extremely unhappy life"

This really surprises me. One would think that for someone (like you) who works so hard on their music this would be the ultimate validation - like playing in the NFL or winning American Idol.

Harriet said...

Ah, but even if that was what I really wanted, there is no way I could have attained it, and certainly could not do so now. Even at my best I was simply never good enough. Gotta have realistic goals . . .