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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Steve Reich and Phillip Glass...

I got to see two legends in concert this week at BAM.  Steve Reich and Phillip Glass were playing together for the first time in 40 years so that was pretty big.  And the tickets fell into my lap.  Twice.  The first was a friend who reviews these concerts but it was on a night that I couldn't have attended because I got asked to come in on the night shift to cover the Democratic primary election. The next time, a day later, it was my dad's cousin who had an extra ticket.  This time I could make it but just barely.  So I made some shifts in my schedule to ensure I'd be able to both see the concert and have dinner with my cousin before the show.

We checked out this vegan restaurant on Atlantic Ave. called M.O.B. Please check it out even if you're not vegan.  It's spectacular and well worth it.  Two words: Vegan Cheesecake.  It's really good.

Afterward we headed over to BAM, grabbed a quick glass of wine and then took our awesome 8th row seats and waited for the show to start.  The first half was to be all Steve Reich and Musicians playing Steve Reich pieces (Four Organs and Drumming) and then Phillip Glass and his Ensemble took over for the last half, playing a slew of Glass tunes encompassing some of his film music and other pieces. I am admittedly not as familiar with Phillip Glass' music but I enjoyed it nonetheless.   This was apparently much anticipated as well.  The ensemble got a standing ovation both at the end and at the beginning when they first took the stage.

The first piece, Four Organs was fun to watch partially on account of Nico Muhly head banging and otherwise hamming up his performance, but also because you started to notice them all counting to themselves and really intensely focusing on the piece.  The piece starts with the percussionist in the center playing a steady pulse with the maracas for a few measure before all four keyboardists start hammering out chords on the organ.  Eventually though, as notes gets added here and there, and individual notes in the chords are held out longer by each different performer, the individual players start to deviate from each other and go out of sync with each other.  I'd seen it performed at least once before, once on that very same stage, but it was fun to see it from so close.  And it's just this wall of sound from the organs that blasts your face off.

On Drumming, something about listening to the overtones of the glockenspiels propagating in the space and the reflections of the bongos and marimbas off the back wall of the theater hitting your ear a half second late and messing with the perceived rhythm, was wholly mesmerizing.  The experience cannot be transmitted through a blog entry so I won't try.   Watching the musicians switch places and take over for each other really shows how grueling a piece it must be to play.  It's an hour long.  They cross the stage at one point, switching form pitched bongos to a row of marimbas, then eventually to the glockenspiels.  Near the end of the piece two female vocalists join the cacophony.

During the intermission, we snuck across the street to a bar called Berlyn, my cousin's little hack to avoid the line at the concession stand.  It worked out great because we had a drink in our hand within minutes and had plenty of time to get back to our seats before the lights went down.  Even had a sec to chat with the sound guy, whom my cousin knows before heading back in.

The last half of the show was all Phillip Glass whose ensemble consisted of percussion, saxophones, keyboards and a vocalist.  They played Music in Similar Motion to start, which I'd heard of, but never really heard.  It starts with just a ceaseless flowing line on organ which is joined by the saxophones part way through and builds to cacophonous splendor by the end.  Take a listen here.  The rest of the pieces were from his film scores and other works and were for the most part enjoyable though I was really starting to fade at this point...and I had to be up at 430am the next day for September 11th memorial coverage!

But it was well worth the fatigue to see these two greats on stage in such a historical concert.  I only wish I could have gone every night of the three they played.  I had to miss Music for 18 Musicians which is one of Steve Reich's seminal works.

I can't say I was all that tired though.  I got a good 4 1/2 hours of sleep and went straight through to my voice coaching session after work.  Which was fun as usual but I'm really starting to feel her challenging me...which means I'm definitely getting something out of it.  More on that in the next entry.  Gotta run for now!




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