12.02.2008

My Wish Came True



The moment I came to know that I am going to be in Europe, the first thing that came to my mind was that in this short period of travel, I should catch at least one classical music concert. But once I landed in Europe, I almost had forgotten about it due to various reasons. My joy had no bounds when I found that there is going to be a concert by Netherlands Philharmonic orchestra on that very day in Amsterdam, which is 1.5 hours journey from where I was staying. But I was skeptical if I would get the ticket for the concert. As I reached The Concertgebouw in time, I was in for a total surprise that though all the tickets were sold out, they had tickets reserved for people under 27 years of age and that too for just 10 Euros, whereas an ordinary ticket is priced at around 30 – 40 Euros. Only after entering the hall, I realised the reason for the discount, the average age of the audience was 50. The discount was for promoting the classical music among youngsters in Europe who rarely turn up for such concerts.

I was always fascinated by the concept of live concerts. There is something special about watching a musician play or a singer sing a beautiful piece of music with their heart; soul and energy live in front of you. The frequency, the vibration, the ecstasy and enthusiasm that both the performer and a listener get out of it is something to be experienced to be believed. It is so amazing to look at the synergy of the mind, body and soul come together in front of your eyes and once you become one with the performer and loose yourself in that meeting point, you are in absolute Nirvana, you feel weightless, sitting on a higher plane where no mortals and materials exists, it is purely divine.

And further when you see 100 musicians play a piece of music perfectly in harmony and in synch, creating the crests and troughs of emotions that the original composer intended to convey through the piece of music - well you can’t stop getting philosophical about the whole thing that just unfolds as you see it. You tend to pinch yourself to check if this is indeed real. I did when I finally got to watch what I dreamt for more than 7 years. My words may sound too exaggerated and overtly emotional but it is indeed true. We don’t get to watch western classical concerts in south India often. As far as I remember I know that Zubin Mehtha once performed with his orchestra in Chennai Music Academy for which I couldn’t go.

From whatever I observed in the concert, I was thinking about how for some simple practical reasons, the very form and structure of the western classical music have evolved. A symphony or a piano or violin concerto stretches for minimum 30 minutes. I guess the fast-slow-fast movement structure came to continuously engage the audience with the piece of music. Because the change in tempo, the dramatic twists and turns indeed help the listeners to not fall asleep. Surprisingly I did feel drowsy for a while in between. And after every movement which lasts for about 8 to 10 minutes or maybe more, the conductor gives a few seconds break for the audience to settle down and get ready for the next movement.

As in those times, there were no records, people always come to listen to a new piece, and so it is tough for a composer to convince and make the audience sit and pay attention to a music which they have never heard before and so to establish a connection with the audience and to make the melody sit on their head as they leave the hall, I guess the concept of themes and thematic developments, the harmony playing the same melody on various permutation and combination by the different instrument sections of the orchestra might have evolved. The very fact that these big halls had no microphones (and even now the hall in which I saw the concert had no microphones or artificial amplifications of sound, it was pure acoustic sound that reverberated through the walls of the hall and there was a gigantic structure behind the main podium which I guess is devised for naturally amplifying the sound and throwing it to the audience all over the hall) might me the reason for having multiple number of same instruments in a symphony orchestra. I am just guessing from what I observed, I may be totally wrong.

When I went to the same hall for another concert, I got a seat close to the podium and I was able to see the musicians very closely as they play some of the most complex piece of music. They totally are in a different plane with utmost concentration, as they keep one eye on the notes and the other on the conductor’s signals. It was amazing to see very closely how conductor interacts with the orchestra; I could see that the rhythm, energy and emotions of the piece of music being played is in perfect synch with the body language, facial expressions and hand movements of the conductor.

I can go on and on. On the whole, I can say it was an unforgettable experience. I wish I could see in this lifetime, one such performance by Illayaraja conducting his symphony in Chennai. That would be a day to live for.

Some of the unforgettable concerts that I have seen (either live or on DVD)

1. Yanni Live at Acropolis
2. Yanni – The Tribute
3. Illayaraja – Andrum Indrum Endrum
4. Rahman’s Dubai Concert (One of the earliest)
5. Rahman’s concert at LA
6. Indian Ocean at Music Academy, Chennai
7. Sonu Nigam’s Rafi Resurrected in London
8. Karajan’s Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony Concert

5 comments:

EnvyRam said...

Definitely I would not be sitting in orchestra in a place like Amsterdam! :) Can see your passion for music. Incredible!

Silly as it may sound, I used to see TIDEL park from my terrace (in those days it was visible from my home!). For years, it was my dream to enter that elusive building. The day when it was not elusive any more, I could feel the blood rushing inside me ... a sudden spur of joy, which yes, I cannot explain.

So when you say you have wanted to see such a thing for 7 years, I can understand how it must have been. Nice to know of your dream-come-true.

Btw, any plans to write a travelogue on your Netherlands (?) trip (still there?) ??. Amsterdam itself is such a beautiful city, with those canals and stuff ... hope you enjoyed the trip as well

Smiles,
Vinayak

Suresh Kumar said...

Hi Vinayak, Yes. Even not many Dutch people of our age is there in the concert hall. Amsterdam is beautiful... I went on Canal cruise, roamed around in the streets of Amsterdam, saw the night life and overall it was fun there... Last week I returned to India. Travelogue? hmmm.. i will try....

Vinith said...

Wonderful write up Suresh. I wish I would get a chance to attend this type of mindblowing concerts....

Srujana said...

"one such performance by Illayaraja conducting his symphony in Chennai. That would be a day to live for...."

How true!!!!
Live Concerts are always worthy to be watched or rather feel...
May not be symphony's but i attended few concerts in which the recent concert of SPB sir at hyd was an other feast to the music lovers...
The orchestra of tht concert should be specially spoken about as the way they handled all the complex tunes of ilayaraja is impeccable....
I wish i can attend such symphony atleast once in my lifetime ...

Anonymous said...

thanks