September 13, 2012 at 8:27 PMLast weekend I found myself at the sold-out Hollywood Bowl, along with a crowd of more than 17,000 people who had gathered for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's performance of music by Tchaikovsky.
With my ears still ringing from the death gongs sounding last week over the world's financially floundering symphony orchestras, I felt invigorated by this huge crowd of classical music fans and the celebratory feeling of the evening. And in fact, this was the second sold-out night of this performance!
Certainly, this was the kind of concert that everyone loves: all works by Tchaikovsky, including pieces from the Nutcracker and Swan Lake ballets, with ballet dancers and the lovely voices of the Los Angeles Children's Chorus (yes, including my son's voice). Then came the 1812 Overture, complete with fireworks and members of the University of Southern California band, who marched onto stage in their Trojan uniforms to help blast out the very end of the piece.
It was a show, for certain! Conductor Bramwell Tovey told the audience that, if this was their first time seeing a performance of the 1812 Overture, "then count it off your 100 Things to Do in Classical Music Before You Die." If not, "How are you doing on the rest of the list"?
More to the point of this blog, where is the rest of the list? We must make it! While many of us are performers and teachers, I mean this list to be for our friends with an interest in classical music, for our audience. What are the most wonderful things that a person, who may not be a musician, can experience in classical music over a lifetime?
Please contribute your ideas, I certainly need your help! I've started it with a few ideas, and when we have 100, I'll make it into a nice PDF/permanent blog for us all to use!
100 Things To Do in Classical Music Before You Die
We have to make this list, and I need your help. I will get us started:
1. See a live, outdoor performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
2. Go to a Handel's Messiah sing-along (whether you sing or not!)
3. See a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York
4. See a concert at Disney Hall in Los Angeles
5. Watch at least a few of Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts
6. Attend a master class
7. See Gustavo Dudamel conduct a live concert
8. Go to a concert at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado
9. Buy season tickets to your local symphony orchestra's concerts
10. Go to Salzburg, Austria and celebrate Mozart's life and birth in some kind of very touristy manner.
11. See the Wagner's Ring Cycle. (or not, if you think it's just really racist)
12. See a big performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, complete with choir and vocal soloists.
13. See the Nutcracker Ballet -- and take a child with you!
14. See a Stradivarius or Guarneri del Gesu violin in person, or better yet, play one!
- Aspire to someday play in a situation where you earn a paycheck. Quartet at a wedding - semi-professional orchestra - teaching somebody. It feels so good to get that paycheck.
- Take a lesson from a virtuoso or a member of a major orchestra.
- Get involved with the business side of your local orchestra in an attempt to muffle those death gongs. Don't assume everyone in power knows what they're doing just because they're powerful.
Watch film of Jacqueline duPre. Go to an organ recital in an old cathedral with a good organ. Hear an English cathedral choir. Hear the Mormon Tabernacle choir live, Schubert's "Winterreise" and a late Beethoven quartet. Gregorian chant performed by monks.
- Play in a violin exam and play at least one of your things as well as a pro (and enjoy it!)
- Play for young children
- Attend a Christmas or New Year's day concert by a major symphony
- Attend a firework show with a synchronized classical music background
- Attend the Queen Elizabeth violin competition finals in Brussels (or online if you can't go)
- Attend a masterclass given by your favorite living idol
- Play in concerts (group and solo)
- Learn a whole concerto or sonata (not just 1 mvt.)
... : )
I mean, we would all love to perform with a symphony or teach but I doubt we will all be good ennough...
Experience Wanda Landowska's legendary expressive capabilities on harpsichord
Attend the Boston Early Music Festival
Have that "a-ha" moment with atonal Schonberg
Identify with Frank Zappa's ability to cross genres and out-compose classical composers.
Adopt a student musician--find a person, child or adult, who will regularly play for you and let you cheer them on as they progress. My mother will gladly drop anything to hear me play. Help that person to overcome stage fright by focusing on sharing their gift of music with their listeners. When I'm really prepared, (!) I love to play for others.
I love the previous idea of taking someone who has never been to a live symphony concert. If all subscribers who REALLY LOVE their orchestra would do that for at least one concert per season (more would be even better), orchestras wouldn't be in the difficult position so many of them are. Symphony management could (and has in some cases) make this easy for people by providing vouchers for free tickets for people who are first-time concertgoers.
- try other genres, such as fiddle or jazz, outside of your comfort zone (better yet- go to a summer festival for this other genre!)
- play or listen to a live reading or performance of the Mendelssohn octet (best experienced with friends)
Same with Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
Same with Mozart's Requiem;
and "Don Juan" , "Figaro" or "the Magic Flute" in Salzburg would be fantastic.
Same with Beethoven Symphony 3, 7 and 9 and his 5th Piano Concerto. And of course his Violin Concerto (have never been so impressed as when I heard it live by Herman Krebbers in the ConcertGebouw)
Nothing compares to performing Brahms chamber music ( piano trios and quartets, string quartets and septets etc)
Attend a great performance of Shakespeare's " A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the Mendelssohn score.
As mentioned : an Italian opera in Italy.
Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" or "Nutcracker Suite" with ballet.
Strawinsky " Sacre du Printemps" or "L'oiseau de Feu"
Schonberg's "Verklaerte Nacht"
Shostakovitch 8th String Quartet or the Orchestra
Perform in a grade school for the kids and in an old age home.
Haven't done all of the above yet but working on some.
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