Renée Fleming -- easy on the eyes, the ears, the heart, and the soul. We were [willingly] taken in....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/03/18 07:16 -04:00, original URI:

The symphony inspires beautiful things for me -- even when unrealistic things are inspired, their beauty and majesty can still trip me up every time.

Like the Wolfgang (Seattle Symphony's Young Patrons Group) kickoff party for this last season.

It was at the Columbia Tower Club (which I should join since I am there so much but I am invited to enough events that I doubt I'd be there more often if I was a member!)

We got to meet the new musical director (Ludovic Morlot!).

And there was a truly amazing happening there.

Two Symphony musicians (one wind, one strings) each played a particular piece for their respective instruments.

Standard fare, that.

And then they did something amazing.

They played each other's pieces, with the "wrong" instruments.

Now any artist who makes it to Benaroya Hall is a cut above.

But the ability to intentionally play in a way that emphasizes a piece in a way that a mere admirer of Symphony can spot the similarities between when the piece is played with the "right" instruments and the "wrong" ones, both?

I admit I was originally there for the free food and wine.

After the performance, I was so enamored of what I had witnessed that I got seasons tickets for Wolfgang, along with my similarly inspired friend Lauren

Now neither of us was so naive that we failed to see that performance as anything more than a stunt, and one that could not be realistically done with the full orchestra in any show we were going to watch.

But I doubt either of us cared, really.

We had just witnessed something so unexpected, so creative, that it drew us in.

Over the course of the next 6-7 months, we ended up at the four Wolfgang shows, each time inspired by some beautiful and innovative selections.

I never once felt cheated by the clever trick that so readily seduced. Ludovic Morlot proved himself over and over again.

The last of the four performances was just days ago, and it included The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca, which was essentially music inspired by art.

And Morlot showed us the Frescoes that inspired the movements.

I was once again amazed. And enamored of the music. The artistry. The pageantry.

Three things happened as a result of that amazing performance

First of all, I was so tongue-tried trying to describe what the night did for me that the serious question "Michael, are you on Vicodin?" was asked.

I wasn't, by the way!

Second of all, I decided to renew the Wolfgang subscription.

I wanted to be inspired again!

And third of all, we did an add-on show:

The beautiful and inestimable Renée Fleming sang with such beauty and grace and charm that we found ourselves waiting in line for an autograph, content to wait as long as it took!

And there was one more surprise that this show held.

We were sitting in the "orchestra" section, in the back on the ground floor (accessible seats, as I was in the iBot!).

But then at the last minute, we were "upgraded" to the Founder's Tier, near the stage. And we had the opportunity to see and hear the beautiful Renée Fleming, up close and personal.

We both agreed that we have been "ruined" from our formerly naive state where any seat seemed roughly liked any other.

Those Wolfgang seats will likely have similar placement, after the inspiring experience of being so close to Renée.

I mean, everyone knows how Thomas Jefferson talked about how we hold some truths to self-evident.

But Renée Fleming singing the Declaration of Independence -- more stunning than any hymn or aria could ordinarily aspire to be -- would put the young (at the time he wrote the words practically younger than us now) Thomas Jefferson to rethink the meaning of self evident truths!

Again, neither of us is naive enough to think that each of next season's five performances will have someone as beautiful and talented as Renée Fleming singing in every, or possibly any, show.

However, neither of us cared -- suddenly being that much closer wasn't a luxury -- it was a nuance that almost felt like necessity, in case there was any opportunity to be once again delighted -- nay, inspired and enamored -- by any aspect of the performance we might miss if we were sitting less proximally!

I can't help wondering whether the person who upgraded our "accessible" seats knew what the impact would be.

All I can say is that (if he did realize it): well played, Patrick. Well played.... :-)

cron22 on 18 Mar 2012 6:32 PM:

Dang that must have been awesome.  It reminds me of a performance I went to last weekend where I saw Varsily Primikov play the piano.  And boy did he know how to play Chopin!  

Anonymous on 22 Mar 2012 12:14 PM:

"But Renée Fleming singing the Declaration of Independence"

Wait, what?  You found the playing of pieces on different instruments novel enough to emphasize, but putting the Declaration of Independence to music just gets a casual mention?  Or is this a known thing that I'm just not aware of?

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