Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
To say it was something special for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra to perform at Carnegie Hall is an understatement. After all, how does one get to Carnegie Hall? The directions is the easy part -on the corner of 57th Street and 7th Avenue, but to really make it there and become part of its rich history? As the old adage goes: Practice, practice, practice, and that is what the WSO has done to earn their greatness.
Ever since Carnegie Hall’s very first opening in 1891, each passing evening of music and speakers has made it what it is today: A world renown, historical landmark with a sense of aristocracy and prestige. With names such as Tchaikovsky (on its opening night), Josef Hofmann, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Richard Strauss, George Gershwin, Bela Bartok, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Julie Andrews, The Beatles, Placido Domingo, Yo-Yo Ma, David Bowie, Luciano Pavarotti, Liza Minnelli, not to mention speakers and prominent figures such as Booker T. Washington, President Grover Cleveland, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., J.K Rowling, makes it difficult to believe that in 1960, being marked for demolition, the Hall nearly closed its doors for the final time!
If it had not been for a small group of civic leaders that gathered and finally convince Mayor Wagner to keep it open, the Hall would be only a distant memory. In 1964, the building gained the designation as a National Historic Landmark, and in 1967 as a New York City Landmark.
After their performance in NYC, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra will now have to change their Mission Statement from “To provide exceptional musical experiences for Manitobans” to now “the world”. From their first concert in 1948 to an audience of 3000, it has dedicated itself to excellence in musical performance. Having a consistent rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5) with ‘ticketmaster’ and ‘tripadvisor’, the WSO performs to a wide variety of audiences with music ranging from the classical to the Aboriginal.
Receiving a U.S. premier, the 3 works they chose for Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music series were peculiar and interesting.
Starting the evening off with all three movements of R. Murray Schafer’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, I sat there finding myself enjoying it. My thoughts for this is that it may very well be a fine example of what is to become a modern Canadian classical piece. Leading off with ‘Very Vigorously’, and continuing on to ‘Mysteriously’ then ‘Fast and Furious’, utilizing every instrument on the stage, I found it difficult to distinguish one movement with the next, yet the time did seem to fly by so quickly as I sat there for 30 minutes watching each musician carefully playing their part and following their conductor’s lead. Although I wouldn’t personally add it among my play list of classical music, it was rather pleasant.
The next selection they played were 13 Inuit Throat Song Games led by the beautiful and talented Throat Singer, Tanya Tagaq. To say her voice was remarkable is an understatement. It is incredible what one can do with their voice. Being from Nunavut, Canada, she began experimenting and practicing the unique form of Inuit throat singing in her teen-years. With several accomplishments under her belt, such as the 2005 and 2008 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, twice nominated for the Juno Award, participated in an award-winning documentary as well as an award-winning film, she took great pleasure in being on stage at Carnegie Hall. With each sway of her body and arms, she manipulated the sounds from her throat with great ease, and seemingly influenced the orchestra’s music to the control of her reverberation. Watching and listening to her performance was quite mesmerizing to say the least. To find more information about Ms. Tagaq, you can read about her in my upcoming exclusive Q&A interview, as well as on her website: http://www.tanyatagaq.com
The final performance for the evening was led by the energetic, and world renown Percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie. At fist thought, it seemed unusual to see a large variety of percussion instruments surrounding the conductor. After a few moments when the music started, one understood why they were arranged as such. With The Shaman: Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra as the chosen piece, each note Evelyn Glennie struck with perfect precision, was the lead-in, focal-point, and exclamation for the orchestra. Like a tempest starting out slowly at first, Evelyn eventually swirled like a whirlwind around the conductor, reaching for every instrument at her disposal. One simply cannot describe it -rather one must experience it. Giving over 100 performances a year with a great variety of conductors, orchestras, and artists ranging from vocalists, other star musicians, and modern music performers such as DJ Yoda and Beatboxer Schlomo, she has earned over 86 international awards and 3 Grammy Awards -it is not surprising that in 2012 she took a lead role in the Opening Ceremony of the summer Olympics in London. As her bio rightfully states, she is the most eclectic and innovative musician to date; constantly redefining expectations in percussion music. To find more information about Dame Glennie, you can read about her on http://www.evelyn.co.uk
My final words regarding the performance at Carnegie Hall that evening: Encore! Encore! Encore!