Hey, I asked for ketchup! I'm eatin' salad here!

Once upon a time there was this concert review I read in the Times Record News. The Wichita Falls Symphony had wowed the crowd. When they played, she raved. When they paused, she wondered why. Every single thing that they happened to play, in some way, was the greatest thing that had ever been played. That day Lana Sweeten-Shults regaled us of a time when resplendent was an understatement, and undertones both lurked and were pensive. It was a review full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of review that could only come from the heart.

Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra wows the crowd

The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra conjured magical moment after magical moment Saturday evening at Memorial Auditorium with a perfectly delivered program of American music.

I love American music...being American and all.

(reflectively thinking to himself, somewhat patriotically) In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women!

To say the Candler Schaffer-led orchestra was resplendent in its presentation of “American Treasure: A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein” is an understatement.

Okay, so resplendent doesn't go far enough? What would you say the Candler-Schaffer led orchestra was then? Brilliant? Effulgent? Majestic and monumental? ...are these really more than "resplendent"?

hmmm.... What's greater than resplendent?...

I know. Splendiferous!

From the opening passages of Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9...

Nothing says American (and "A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein") quite like bearded Czech composers from the 19th century...

figure not-American-composer: Musical Facial Hair of the Week

...to the Symphonic Suite from Bernstein’s “On the Waterfront” and selections from “Candide,” the orchestra mesmerized.

The WFSO had one of many shining moments with Dvorak’s gilded dream of the American frontier, his 40-minute, four-movement Ninth Symphony — hands down my favorite symphony after the orchestra’s passionate, rousing delivery of the work.

Now, I know what we're all thinking, "the 'New World' Symphony has four movements?!" It is amazing what a trained journalist can uncover. I guess it's true that you learn something new everyday.

But, this is "hands down" your favorite symphony after this performance? Just wondering out loud here, but have you ever heard a symphony before? Just asking.

While the first movement started off a little slowly,...

...well, to be fair, it is marked Adagio and pianissimo...

...it ended with a big bang, courtesy of insistent violins.

Violins bang?

But it was the work’s famous second movement, the Largo, based on the spiritual “Goin’ Home,” in which the orchestra brought on all its magic in spades. A majesty of strings, with undertones of pensiveness and sadness, lulled the audience with its splendid melody. The symphony handled this movement, often thought to convey nostalgia for home, adeptly and beautifully. The only downside was the long pauses between the first and second movements and again toward the end of the Largo.

er...um..."long pauses"?

Have you ever been to an orchestra concert before?

Just a note about the third and fourth movements. John Williams must have been inspired by this Dvorak work, some of whose passages sound like the battle scenes in “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” and “Jaws,” even.

...And with that, amidst the noise and haste of the offices in Detritus Towers, an incredible calm suddenly surrounds him. Everything went quiet. All the irrepressible sounds of the bustling news room seemed to fade into the distance. Time slows to a crawl as he sits there motionless, pausing mid-thought for what must of felt like an eternity. Bewilderment creeps across his face, and a small pool of saliva forms in the corner of his mouth. Struggling to form cohesive thoughts, he wonders, is this a joke? A cleverly perpetrated hoax by a fan of the Detritus to test our fortitude?

And yet, the hours pass. Day into evening. Evening into night. The staff have all gone home to their blissfully oblivious families, and yet, there sits your humble detrital servant at his desk, mouth agape, eyes unblinking, and a completely blank look across his face. But as he sat there, he realized a few things about himself...about life.

...Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're listening to Mostly Mozart, the next day you're injecting Brian Ferneyhough straight into your eyeballs. But the innocence of childhood stay with you for the long haul, or until you wake up drunk in a motel bed next to Augusta Read Thomas. I remember a symphony, a movement, a phrase like a lot of other phrases, a motive like a lot of other motives, by a composer like a lot of other composers. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back, with wonder. Does the Jaws theme really sound like the Dvorak 9, 4th movement opening? Yes...I think it does.

We never really talked about it afterward, but I think about the events of that day again and again, and somehow I’m sure that she does too. Whenever some blowhard starts talking about the complexity of contemporary music, or the coldness of modernism. Because we know that Dvorak wrote a symphony that sounds like film music, sometimes, kind of, and that in spite of each of those soulless pieces of new music, with its thorny atonality, and its melody-less textures programed dissonantly before the Mozart piano concerto, there is the "New World" Symphony that sounds like a shark. And as we grow and hear more symphonies and newer music, there will be moments, like that one, of sorrow and wonder.


Sator Arepo: Hey, Butthead. Wake up, kid!

Gus: Ba...

Empiricus: Have you been here all night? You look like shit.

Gus: Snee...

SA: Still working on the Sweeten-Shults piece, eh? Don't forget the staff meeting at 11. Remember, it's your turn to bring the Everclear and disposable enemas.


Empiricus said...

Postmodern meta-meta-review noir? Simply resplendent!

Sator Arepo said...

I dunno. Without some hard, musicological documentary evidence to suggest that John Williams was familiar with the work of Dvorak [diacritical sic] I don't think that the attribution stands.

"Then why did I have the bowl, Bart? Why. Did. I. Have. The. Bowl?"

AnthonyS said...

Resplendently splendiferious post.

It's sort of like Garrison Keillor went off the deep end and starting talking about music reviews.

Though I do like the line "...this showcase concert rife with all the big emotions". I'm thrilled they left all the small emotions out-- they are mostly filler anyway.

Super wow.

TimR-J said...

WFSO looks too much like WTFSO for me to take this seriously.

Sator Arepo said...

Actually, and counterintuitively, the WTF SO is a little to the south in Austin.

Jeff Dunn said...

Uh, based on the "spiritual"? 'Fraid it's the other way around ...