A Gun shot in Carnegie Hall
14 February, 2013
A Gun shot in Carnegie Hall
It is true, a gun was shot in Carnegie Hall during a performance of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 3, Circus Maximus, but it wasn’t the kind of gunshot that would end a life or start a riot. It simply indicated the end of wishful thinking that is brought forth by Veritas. (truth).
This was not a traditional classical music experience. This was a performance I dubbed the ‘surround system’ performance of Julliard orchestra. The music was all encompassing, the trumpet
layers positioned in the balconies, the marching band stationed behind spectators on the ground floor, all placed so that the experience of being surrounded was as vivid as possible. The result was that the audience surrendered to the music and let it dictate our responses; there was no room to think or feel anything besides what was being blasted in our ears. It was the kind of powerful music that would rile up a peaceful rally and create havoc if the audience wasn’t made of the elderly and the relatively intelligent audience.
I had gone to this event as a part of five-day anti-Valentine’s day celebration with my friends. The mutual felling about Valentine’s Day (aka day of flowers, not broken noses) is that it is a holiday created by Hallmark to make money on those who buy into the concept of love for one day a year. I fully understand that the idea of creating an anti-Valentine’s five-day celebration still plays into the idea itself, but at least we had some control over when and how to celebrate. Control was not something we had while sitting riveted in Carnegie Hall. Music is a powerful stimulus. It can act differently on different people; it can take a person to the highest point of exaltation and throw him/her down into the depth of despair.
Music is dangerous. Kandinsky when he wrote about the harmony of spiritual sound being seen in his paintings, did not voice his opinion on the devastating affect disharmony in music can have on a person.
Kandinsky believed that through his spiritual harmony a world that was deteriorating fast into WWI could achieve harmony not only in the souls but in society as well. Bearing that in mind, I looked at the Julliard orchestra, the one that was holding me captive with a slightly different approach. I saw a conductor, the leader of the society, holding everyone together, directing traffic and signaling for power and calm when needed. The conductor, the first female conductor I had ever seen, was a graduate of Julliard School, so she knew what she was working with well. She knew how to listen and how to conduct with swift and just waive of a hand. Next I looked at the orchestra, the main body of the society, and all its participants all of whom looked to the conductor for the next clue. This orchestra would not be able to work out something this revolutionary and new without a conductor who was able to lead them through the somewhat treacherous musical score of a 21century composer.
The conductor did not have to turn around to direct the trumpets in the balconies and the marching band in the back of the audience, there was trust in those, who were physically separate with the orchestra, but did not waver in their goal of performance. It felt like a battle, fought by a well-organized army that was able to take us prisoners and convert us into believers. If this orchestra was able to break the old traditional classicists like us into a standing ovation, then perhaps there is hope for the rest of society that clings to the 20th century rules in the 21st century world. Of course all that goodwill, will fly out of the window the moment someone tries to break my nose, but that’s another story.

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