Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thinking LA Phil Live in HD; The March 13 Program

I encourage you to try something different...something a little 21st century:

On March 13 the LA Philharmonic will continue its new "Live in HD Series" in selected theaters. You can find the location closest to you on this site.

There has been significant discourse about the pros and cons of hearing an orchestra simulcast played through a movie theater sound-system. We are given to experiencing live orchestral sound as a complexity akin to sonic wine-tasting. "I thought the sound ineffective," wrote Mark Swed, "the concert experience dulled."

I can understand Swed's complaint; hearing a live event that is simulcast is different from hearing live sound. One loses the seemingly infinite delicacy of live sound anytime it is processed. But for me the overall experience was not dulled. Without the transmission I would not have had the experience at all. The new medium created a new availability.

One still gets a sense of shared experience with Live-in-HD. We had gathered.

Like Swed, I also attended the first transmission of the LA Phil Live in HD in January and reviewed the event here on Sonic Labyrinth. That program featured a tasty performance of Leonard Bernstein's first symphony with lovely singing in the third movement by mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor. The program--Adams, Bernstein, Beethoven--was engaging. To include Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 in particular was to chart a worthwhile course. This was not pops. It was the real thing.

Cinemas are a place where people come to relax, but also to become engaged. Movies require uninterrupted concentration. Cinemas may be the perfect place outside of a concert hall to develop new audiences inside the concert hall.

I believe that high quality performances like these, made broadly available in cinemas, will allow us to re-energize the conversation about how to develop younger audiences for symphonic music; about how to make classical music relevant to the digital age.

The program on March 13 is also creative and worth your consideration. It will be centered on three works by Tchaikovsky inspired by Shakespeare plays: The Overture-Fantasy on Romeo and Juliet, the rarely played Overture-Fantasia on Hamlet op. 67, and the earlier Symphonic Fantasia after The Tempest, Op. 18. Readings from the plays will be interspersed within the program.

I may not see you there, but I will be there, listening. I remain convinced that there is potential in this new venture.

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