Colorado Symphony moves audience with strings
AN ELEGANT SYNCHRONIZED MUSICAL SWIM
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 01:11
On Nov. 3, the Colorado Symphony performed Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, op. 8. The piece contains a full orchestra, chorus, organ, and several highlighted soloists.
The music itself is refined and elegant, presented in eight distinct movements that all highlight a different musical idea or solo performance, be it Yumi Hwang-Williams’ dynamic violin, or the individual and emotive vocals of soprano Arianna Zukerman and tenor Nathaniel Watson.
But the sound of the music is just an aspect of the performance. Something striking about it was the ceremonious atmosphere. With every man in a tuxedo and woman in a black gown, onlookers couldn’t pick one performer out from another. The conductor’s entrance always garnered audience applause and the deference of every musician on stage. Each and every movement by each performer was deliberate and exacting. Acting like a well-oiled machine, the Symphony and its stage etiquette is all about tradition. It’s a music that does not stray from the page, or from its antiquity.
And it is this massive-level conformity that makes the musicians a joy to watch. If one violin bow is slowly raised into the air, then all of the others are as well, since they merely double one another. The hands bobbing up and down the necks of the basses all move in absolute unison. The opening of books by the chorus members is simultaneous.
Once the music starts, the collection of still people comes alive in an organic sea of motion. Bows bob up and down to the rhythm. The woodwinds and brass players take collective breaths. Plucking the strings of the viola means an ebbing and flowing of bows. And at the helm of the ocean of sound is the conductor, always moving and intricate. The captain of this domain, his actions match the music which matches the motion of the ocean—fast and excited melody means violent jerking of the conductor’s steady hand, and a soothing tune the reverse.
The very nature of the music means that the motion of the instrumentalists and conductor will match the mood of their sounds, and of each other. It’s something you cannot fully comprehend or appreciate until you witness it for yourself—but when you do, it’s like being let in on a secret to the universe. You get a hint at how complexity leads to simplicity—about what it means to be a part of a whole.
While some music highlights soloists and improvising and standing out, this concert was defined by beauty in conformity. And it really is beautiful.