April 10, 2006 at 6:52 PMI can gauge my enthusiasm for playing a concert from the height of the heels I'm willing to wear and also whether I'm inclined to suffer the inconveniences of a dress.
For example, pit orchestra for "Oklahoma" = flats and pants. No doubt here, we're literally talking about being in the pit, underground. Another example: one of those church services where you have to come for an extra unpaid hour-and-a-half choir "warm up" before the actual three-hour oratorio: one has to dress for the marathon it is. Then there is the performance of another 'nother 'nother Tchaik 5: inch-high heels, maybe. And probably pants. It's not exactly a bad piece, but after playing it the 36th time, possibly in the same year, one can't get to dizzying heights over it.
I was contemplating all this Saturday night, while putting on three-inch heels and dress to play in the New West Symphony. Gosh, I like this group. Okay, maybe part of the shoe thing is just being on the west side of the Los Angeles metro area instead of home in rather, uh, homey, Pasadena. Or I could have been under the influence of my excellent stand partner for this series, Rock 'n' Roll Melissa, who just always wears cool shoes.
But also, the last two concerts I've played for this orchestra have been well worth getting about three inches taller for, with interesting programming and stunning soloists. The last one was a challenge, with Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis and then pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin playing not one, but both Shostakovich piano concertos. I'm thinking his last movement of the Op. 35 was as fast as anybody in perhaps the world has heard it.
Then last night's pianist, Arnaldo Cohen, well, he was probably worth four-inch heels, but those are against my religion, or at least the advice of a physical therapist. He played a beautifully accurate and musical Liszt Concerto No. 2, the lesser-played of the Liszt concerti. But what stunned everyone was his encore: a riff on themes from Johann Strauss's "Die Fledermaus." Cohen himself composed this encore, full of all kinds of stunning pianistic feats ("I think I made my life more difficult," he smiled, as he explained it to some musicians backstage) as well as some quiet moments of theme weaving that could come only from a very sophisticated musical mind.
Fine pieces, fine playing, yes, I'll wear my very best shoes!
Ummm, I'll be going for a cold shower about now.
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