We were lucky last night to be able to finally get tickets to a concert at the new symphony hall. When the Grand Opening $2,500 smackers-a-ticket soiree occurred, I was not invited. I chose to spend that evening at the opening of my friend Susan’s new TV room watching the US Open Women’s Finals. I was wearing Ladies of Charity. A good time was had by me because I got to watch Sharapova on a 58″ flat screen TV. Holy Moly.
Anyway…where was I…Oh yeah, about last night. We did dress up a bit more than the night of Susan’s TV room opening. I was wearing a dark blue dress shirt with light wool brown pants. Lynn was elegant in electric blue and black. The point here is that we sorta looked like we belonged and we did not appear to be barbaric or feckless hooligans. We got to the hall early. We were walking around when we passed a door that said ‘Frost-Brown Party’. Since I wasn’t invited, I wasn’t planning to barge in, but I did turn my head in the general direction of the Frost-Brown clutch of folks because they were dressed to at least the eights, if not the nines, and they were chatting in small groups in one of the beautiful colonnaded porches.
I swear I did not make a move to enter the forbidden Frost-Brown zone. A docent who was standing guard to keep the great unwashed from sullying the Frost-Brown crowd actually SHOVED me by placing her hand on my shoulder and pushing me away…she gestured for a male guard to come over to ensure that I didn’t pollute the F-B area. The guard came over and asked if I was part of the Frost-Brown crowd, and I said no, and asked him where will-call was located, and he gave us directions that gratuitously sent us outside. Luckily it was a beautiful night, so this odd mistreatment didn’t damage the evening irreparably. I’m still confused as to what that docent thought I was going to do.
The new hall is wonderful. I’m not an acoustic expert by any stretch of my own dream, but I can tell you that if there is a hall in this country that has better acoustics, I’ll buy you tickets to a concert there . We were sitting upper balcony , and even up there, you could hear the subtle notes as cleanly as if you were wearing headphones.
Our concert was Bransford Marsalis playing with the Nashville Symphony. They opened without B. Marsalis, and with a little Ravel. I’m not a big fan of the marshmallow light school* of symphonic music, but nonetheless, the tenderest passages and the loudest crescendos were equally clear.
Marsalis, wielding his alto-sax, accompanied the Symphony on Scaramouche and the Concertino da Camera for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra. We were a long way from Mr. Marsalis, but when he played it was if he was leaning on a the wall nearest us, playing just for our section. As you would expect, Marsalis along with his alto-sax were amazing. During one movement**, he did miss a note, and instead of pretending it never happened, he emitted an easily audible ‘awwwwwwwwwwwwww’ groan. The crowd loved that.
The stage is a beautiful dark-orange-hued wood, contrasted with the mint-foam green walls, banded with white and gold panels. It was not at all what I expected. I’m not a big green-wall kinda guy, but the color certainly brought out the beauty of the wood.
Except for the odd shoving incident by my now least favorite docent, the night was outstanding, as is the concert hall. It should also be said that the use of space outside the hall is imaginative and inviting. If you are a money-saver*** like me, you should park by the football stadium and walk over the pedestrian bridge…the walkway down the bridge spills into the broad sidewalk on the north end of the hall, featuring a splendid fountain. Great view…good exercise.
*solo harp passages should be restricted to Marx Brothers movies and after-death experiences.
** Ok, I know not to clap at the end of each movement, and only at the end of the entire piece. But why? Inevitably, at least at the concerts that I can afford to attend, someone, or a few someones, begin clapping after a movement is finished, and then quickly sit on their hands when they realize the only worst faux pas’ would be to fart loudly during a non-woodwind passage.