Classical Music is Boring! And: Nobody Likes It (Except Old People).

Looking for the Classical Music reviews on the Chicago Sun-Times' website is sort of like trying to find fresh endive at the supermarket. You know it must be there, somewhere. But it seems as though they don't want you to find it. (Try it! Lifestyle? No. Entertainment and the Music tab both take you to oceans of club listings and pop reviews. Arts? Oh, visual arts.) One would think that the primary newspaper in a major city with one of four major American orchestras would have a vibrant "art" music scene. Maybe they do. They sure hide it well.

After some searching, I found this little gem. This gentleman, apparently, gets paid (if occasionally) to write about music. Now, I realize that classical music is, perhaps, not his milieu. Also...wait, you know what? No more hedging.

"Catching Some Zs in D Minor"

Midway through Quintet Attacca's performance at the Chicago Cultural Center last Monday afternoon, I spied a fellow audience member stifling a yawn.

Classical music is boring!

She had a right; along with the other fifth graders from Henson Elementary School in attendance, she'd just used up all her energy playing impressive versions of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" and "The Gift of G-A-B" on the recorder.

Oh, sorry. I spoke too soon. She was just a tuckered-out little kid. Classical music isn't boring. Not for nothing, but I really want to know more about "The Gift of G-A-B". I wonder if it was constructed around linear ascent through a major third?

Dave and I, on the other hand, had no excuse for dozing off during the event, unless you count staying up late to watch Sunday Night Football.

Okay. You're a regular [read: likes football] guy who also enjoys the occasional classical music concert. That's cool. Trying to expand the audience is cool with me! How was the concert? Who's Dave?

"I wouldn't call that 'rambunctious'," noted Dave as he was startled awake by the set-ending applause.

I wouldn't call staying up for Sunday Night Football "rambunctious" either. Who's Dave? Your roommate?

He was referring to flautist Jennifer Clippert's introductory description of Irving Fine's "Partita for Wind Instruments."

Oh. The "that" in the previous sentence referred to something you hadn't mentioned yet. Who's Dave?

"I guess it's all relative," I replied, stretching.

Your casual, narrative style seems designed to put me at ease. I hope.

I had been counting on Dave to keep me interested in the concert, since he was once a dedicated cello player (his prized instrument was stolen last year; he is currently offering a free haircut for anyone who can ensure its safe return).

That is sad. Dave is forced to be a hairdresser for a living since his cello was stolen? Or had he previously given up music in favor of a career in hairdressing? Um, who's Dave?

Also, you expected the concert to be soporific (since classical music is boring) and expected your classical nerd buddy (or something) to keep you interested. Your casual, narrative, parenthetically anecdotal tone is starting to wear thin. However, I'll keep a positive attitude. How was the concert?

But the Quintet's songs proved to be an effective, if pleasurable, sleep aid,

Oh. Classical music is boring.

and my roommate and the 60-year old spectator to his right were soon dreaming woodwind dreams.

Really boring. Soporific, even. Literally! Plus: new information! Dave is totally your roommate. I assume. Although I am not sure, given your predilection to postpone predicates.

Forced to fend for myself, I spent much time looking around Preston Bradley Hall, the home of the Classical Mondays concert series.

Good thing you weren't listening to the music. Otherwise you might be able to tell me how you liked the concert. I know: how about a digression!

The ornate room, featuring the world's largest stained-glass Tiffany Dome, is a clear reminder of the building's previous life as the Chicago Public Library. It's covered with multilingual inscriptions about books as well as the names of masters like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dante.

That sounds really nice. It sounds like a nice place to be. I wish I had a blog making fun of architecture reviews. How was the concert? Boring? So boring you were reading the names of authors? On the wall?

It's also huge, and much to my surprise, the space was needed for this concert.

This is awesome. It is surprising to Dave's everyman-roommate Ben (a writer) that people come to free classical concerts. Much surprising!

While I'd expected some Loop workers on lunch break and maybe a street-dweller or two looking for a respite from the cold,

Classical music is boring. Nobody likes it. Concerts of this type (especially, I guess, free ones) are mostly attended by street people, who are cold.

I wasn't prepared for the packed house that left me just inches away from the bobbing head of the man in front of me.

I guess not. People? At a concert? Bobbing?!

Evidently, the description of the award-winning Quintet Attacca as "up and coming" isn't just PR spin; the group is clearly popular with the coveted 45- to 75-year-old market.

Hey-O! Derision of the middle-aged and elderly. That was totally necessary! You know who likes classical music? Old people. Take that, old people!

I could only imagine how many homebound fans were listening to the live broadcast on WFMT (98.7 FM).

Take that, homebound fans! You are totally homebound. And you know what else? You like classical music. Which is boring. By the way, Ben, how was the concert?

Classical concerts demand a certain level of propriety, and the well-mannered audience members were model citizens throughout.

The audience, which consisted of a) tuckered-out fifth-graders, b) football-loving everymen Ben and Dave, and c) boring old people, was well-mannered. This is awesome journalism.

Though I'm a rule-follower to a fault, I was tempted to shake things up, if only in a last-ditch effort to stay awake.

It was so fucking boring.

As long as I had to watch horn player Jeremiah Frederick empty out his spit valve at every pause, why couldn't I clap when the urge struck?

Brass instruments accumulate spit as a result of the physical necessities of generating sound through a metal tube using your mouth. This is very, very slightly gross and has nothing to do with your clapping "when the urge struck". I don't really understand. How was the concert? Boring? How's Dave doing about now?

Sadly, Dave wasn't alert enough to share in my civil disobedience,

Ah, bored to sleep. But well-mannered!

and I had to sit on my hands like everyone else until the group members stood up to signal for applause.

That must've been torture. Boring torture.

The performers weren't all business; their colorful and informative introductions to each piece elicited chuckles from the crowd, and revealed their deep understanding of musical history.

The performers sound well-informed. Their "colorful" introductions sound pretty cool. This sounds a lot like the kind of newer, casual style of "classical" concerts that younger ensembles stage nowadays in order to educate and interest a wider audience. I think that's exemplary.

I wonder if they played well, too? How was the selection of pieces? How was the concert?

My personal favorite was the preface to Arturo Marquez' "Danza de Mediodia." Oboist Erica Anderson explained that the title translated to "Noon Dance," and referred not to the time of day, but rather the stage the Mexican composer was at in his career when he wrote it.

What was your favorite piece?

According to Anderson, the song is meant to be played standing, but due to aesthetic concerns and the weight of Collin Anderson's bassoon, the group members would be "dancing from [their] seats."

I'm not really sure what this means, or where it's going. I'm sure you are driving at something here. Do you approve? Disapprove? What was the effect? How was the piece? How was the concert? How is Dave?

Amidst all the post-noon swoons and kids eager to get back on the school bus, I'm sure there were a few toes politely tapping in the audience as well.

That's it? That's the end? For fuck's sake man! How! was! the! concert!? Did Dave ever wake up?


Empiricus said...

I heard you get slapped for snoozing on the short bus.

What a lazy motherfucker! Lazy. Lazy. Lazy. Stupid. Shit Christ! Jesus.

...(other abusive, derisive, nearly hateful things)...

Murderface said...

No man, Dave's not here.

Sator Arepo said...

Hilarious. Empiricus, wtf is your avatar? It is silly yet disturbing.

Empiricus said...

My avatar is... the Microsoft Paint equivalent of Charles Bukowski.

Aaron said...

Wow. Ben Rubinstein makes Mr. Holland look pretty good.

Which is quite an accomplishment, really.

Sator Arepo said...

Agreed. This was a terrible piece, and I loved every line. The whole "Dave" thing was icing.

Anonymous said...

I like classical music and im not old .... unless highschool age is old :/