Monday, December 07, 2015

Music To Die To

Looking less Kermit-like here
Not music to die for, but music to die to. That's what tonight's concert by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra seemed like. I don't fault the orchestra as much as the audience for the bulk of this lingering impression though. Again, as virtually every time before, I am one of the minority Under 60 crowd in attendance. I never really notice that Florida is full of old people until I come to a performance by the OPO.

And since I was in the cheap seats, I got to see virtually every blue doo in the house. And I was pretty much in the handicapped section way in the back so lots of canes, walkers and wheelchairs to boot. I even saw this oldie idling down the aisle on canes that looked like cross-country ski poles. At the entrance I saw nursing home mini vans for cryin' out loud. They brought 'em in en masse.

Well, the selection was Bach, and only Bach. I think baroque music is the red-headed stepchild in the overall classical music family. Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, yeah, I think even some younger-than-Methuselah types might go for those. Heck, this time of year, at least one other baroque composer even gets to be in the spotlight; namely Handel and his oh-so-seasonal "Messiah" of course. But Bach...despite the conductor announcing his selections of tonight's pieces as "holiday themed" I never connected 'em as such. Eh, to each his own.

Alright, let's get to my review shall we? Why the seemingly sour tone? Was the ensemble responsible for a bit of this funereal mood? Well, yes and no.

This year the OPO has moved to a new venue. Surprisingly, not the glitzy new Dr. Philip Performing Arts Center smack in the middle of downtown Orlando but rather to theater that I think was originally a cinema and then converted to a hipster alternative rock venue and now the home of the Orlando Philharmonic, almost in the ever-trendy Thornton Park neighborhood. The middle transitional phase must be the reason the place lacks actual seats. Yup. We had folding chairs. Row after row of fucking metal folding chairs. It made me long painfully for the ever-scorned seating at the old venue, namely the Bob Carr Theater.

I sat patiently through the concert with this tiny old lady in the folding chair to my left. With each exhale of her breath I could smell what must have been the liver and onion special. Fave dish of the oldsters, don't cha know. It was very distracting. Couldn't she have Polidented before the show? I mean, she must have ate at the Toojay's Early Bird time so it'd been, what, three hours ago she had "supper?"

Okay, so the location, the crowd...not so hot. Unlike the temperature in there, it was a freakin' sauna...can't let the old folks catch cold. Well, how about the players?

They were okay, except I swear I kept hearing one of the violinists in the back row either coming in too early or late and it seemed like they were slightly out of tune. What I wouldn't have given to see the conductor blow up like J. K. Simmons in "Whiplash" and fling a chair at him. I know it was the goofy-looking one in the back.

Speaking of the conductor, he's a lanky, quirky marionette who, due to bad lighting, looked either like a Fallout glowing feral ghoul or a scrawny puppet Frankenstein. Take your pick. I really thought he had Elphaba makeup on when he first came out but it was just an oddly-placed green spotlight. He was a bit odd too. He's new with the OPO and I guess he felt he had to impress his new hometown audience with "fun facts" about Bach and other such shit. Really, I doubt anybody gave a shit. He even paused in the middle of the Harpsichord Concerto exiting the stage briefly for some unknown fucking reason and laughed it off saying "I'll be right Bach!" Oh brother.

To sum the evening up, it just seems that everything was just a bit off. The orchestra was having trouble melding well with the conductor and one could feel the slight unease in their playing. Just the dirge-like tempo he insists on for each of the second movements must have driven the players a bit mad. And it really messed with that goofy dude in the back.

And after the evening's finale, the soloists took their bow but the conductor didn't, again for some odd reason. He, like the steady hobbling, zombie-like throng of grumbling octogenarians, made for the exit as quickly as possible.

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