I Have a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature!

And I’m here to tell you about a concert, performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, something I’ve been doing since 1977.

When a conductor picks up a microphone to address the audience about the music they’re going to hear, the audience can be sure of one thing:

What’s that? That assertive conjecture is not appropriate in public media? It fosters stupidity, or worse, blind hatred? Misinformation?

They aren’t expected to like the piece.

All three. Great.

It couldn’t be that the conductor felt that program notes were inadequate. It couldn’t be a more personal way to inform the listener about the proceeding work. Nooooo!! It was that the piece is awful, an abomination, which requires warning! A fucking disclaimer! A fucking air raid, if you will. That’s the only reason why conductors turn around and speak to their audience. Fuck.

By the time guest conductor Michael Stern had finished telling Thursday’s Seattle Symphony audience about Varèse’s “Intégrales,”

Oh shit! No. No. No, no, no, no, no! You can’t be serious?!

(Jesus! I can’t believe I’m taking the time to write something up about this narrow-minded, pointy-headed, ignorantly-biased crap written by a... composer? WTF? This is exponentially weirder than I thought. ...what’s that? Oh. Never mind. She writes choral music.)

Really, she’s going to pick on Varèse? I suppose he didn’t really write any choral music.

It’s a wonder they weren’t fleeing the hall en masse.

You wonder that.

I wonder why I’m getting the sinking feeling that it’s 1940 and I live in London.

With Stern’s every phrase (“A certain weird clarity,” “An assault on the senses”),

To rational humans, they are both neutral phrases that don’t make wild assertions pertaining to the piece’s “likeability,” or goodness. But to a choral music composer maybe “clarity” and “assault” do.

the impending work loomed more ominously.

Like... the Germans in 1940?

When the downbeat finally came, and the small wind ensemble plus a whole armory

An armory like filled with warplanes and evil bombs and guns and loud, bursty things.

of percussion began to play Varèse’s chaotic motifs and random-sounding outbursts, no one could say we weren’t warned.

Stupid audience. Ignoring the air raid sirens. I guess they wanted to be hit by Varèse’s all-out Blitz. A musical Blitz. Choral music is not a Blitz.

P.S. If you don't know Varèse’s music check this out. I couldn't find "Integrales," but this is representative of his work. So is this one.


Sator Arepo said...

Varese is terrible. Everyone knows that! Even ignorant fucking critics.