Before I continue let me encourage latecomers to check out parts 1 and 2, beginning here, and thus be brought up to speed.
Like any concert venue, when you are ready there is a helpful usher (Link to the next chapter.) to guide you from place to place when you are ready. ;-D
Okay, so off I go to find my seat on the fourth floor, Promenade Circle...
Through Door 16, then to my right, and along the front row, with its spectacular view of all of the hall spread out in front of me, to Seat 412.
See that bald head in the bottom of the frame? I sat next to the lady on his left.
The concert hall was not filled to anywhere near capacity, so luckily the mistake I made in finding my seat did not end up costing someone their spot.
You see, when I came in, I started looking for numbers, not letters, and saw 400 on the seat closest to the isle, and headed inland from there. ;-D
Look, I have worn glasses most of my life for a reason, and sometimes even THEY fail me. ;-D
I learned later, after returning home, and checking out the website, which has a wonderful seat locater program, that MY seat was not in what was actually Row A, but a bit higher up in Row D, near where I took the photo.
I'll definitely know better next time. ;-D
The first two pieces on the program were by Stephen Scott, and The Bowed Piano Ensemble of Colorado College.
After playing the brief "Sun Catcher" from his longer Vikings of the Sunrise work, Mr. Scott gave a short introduction to the Bowed Piano and an amusing introduction for the next piece.
The next piece, commissioned for this Festival, was performed with the Pacific Symphony, conducted by Carl St. Clair, in a world premiere.
Pacific Crossroads for Bowed Piano and Orchestra is a very entertaining mix of the familiar sounds of an orchestra and the unique sounds of the Bowed Piano.
I found myself absorbed in the music as I watched the close-up, on the big screen, of the hands of the ensemble in action, pulling, plucking, and sliding away on the innards of the piano.
In the Program Notes found in the February Program Magazine, Mr. Scott explains the piece this way:
I think of Pacific Crossroads as a kind of concerto grosso, a work for multiple soloist and orchestra, though the Ensemble sometimes functions almost as a single soloist and at other times as an orchestra within an orchestra, often supporting a soloist on a wind, brass, or string instrument.
As I sat listening to this and watching the ensemble members moving around, stepping away, and playing their assigned parts, I was struck by the amazing variety of sounds created using such things as nylon fishline, horsehair on tongue-depressors, guitar picks, piano hammers, plexiglass, rubber mutes, and other items used to, as he describes it, "excite the strings" I marveled at how such an "inneficient way to play the piano", as he calls what he and his group do, can create such a beautiful sound.
The piece was a tribute of sorts to 6 personalities with strong ties to "The West" in one way or another, with movements created to match 3 pairs based on similarities in their names:
Tangaroa and Balboa (A native God of the Pacific, and the first Eurpean to lay eyes on that same ocean.), Junipero Serra and Richard Serra (The 18th century Monk of CA. Mission fame, and a famous Ca.-born sculptor whose large steel piece, called Connector, sits outside the Hall in the Pedestrian Plaza.), and John of Hollywood and Olivia Newton John of Australia (One a 13th century English Math Whiz and astronomer who never set foot in the city bearing his name, and the other a singer/actor who HAS left her footprints, and more, all over that very town.)
In this music one can hear different themes for each of the 6, and also hear sounds representing interaction between each pair, and it all results in a very pleasing, and entertaining piece of work.
If you are interested in learning more about the Bowed Piano, and the Ensemble, this YouTube Video, among others listed, is a great visual, and aural, intro.
Next up was the West Coast Premiere of a 52 year old piece by Lou Harrison, called Four Strict Songs, by the Pacific Symphony and the Pacific Chorale.
Mr. Harrison, according to the magazine apparently lived in Manhattan in the 40's, didn't like the place but continued previously begun studies in non-tonal "serial" forms of music, while in town.
This apparently led to a "personal creative agony" that caused a nervous breakdown.
He fled to California to recover, discovering in the process his true creative muse, influenced by non-Western music.
Okay, fine, cool, genius comes in many forms. ;-D
So what did I think of the piece?
The orchestra was great, but the Chorale, well, um, this is why I find choirs annoying sometimes...
The melody and singing was fine, but sadly I could not understand a single word they were warbling!
With two big screens above the audience why couldn't the words be scrolled across them for the audience to follow along, or include the lyrics in the program? (The answer, my friends, is awaitng near this reviews end, hee, hee!)
And so we come to intermission...that time in the proceedings when there is a general stampede to the refreshments, and more importantly, the potty (Where the unlucky ones end up having a terrible choice to make when intermission is over and they are still in line...Leading to a faster rush to the restrooms, for some, after the show is finally over.)
Luckily for those unable to get immediately back to their seats there are small screens in the lobbies that allow for not just hearing, but seeing the perfomance. ;-D