Friday, March 21, 2008

Mis-conduct / with conductors like these who needs an audience?

You know how I'm always complaining about people annoying me at concerts?

Well, I was at this concert today - a performance of Bach's Mass in B minor [1] by this ensemble called the Vox Ama Deus - and I thought for once things were going to turn out right. Two people who seemed to be from the UPenn music faculty on my right and a nice middle-aged lady with impeccable taste [2] on my left. A few kids in the audience, true, but far away and seemingly well behaved. No couples liable to start making out in the middle of a movement. No obvious snorers. All in all, the signs seemed propitious.

The concert started. Intermission came and went and still no one had annoyed me. Finally, we were in the home stretch - the Agnus Dei - I figured nothing bad could happen now.

And then, just as I was starting to relax, the conductor, the BLOODY CONDUCTOR breaks off the performance in BETWEEN MOVEMENTS to deliver some sanctimonious little homily about 'Our Lord Jesus Christ' who died on the cross so we could be saved, and 'Our Brave Soldiers in Iraq' and on and on and on - five minutes of pure blah which not only bored the ears off the entire audience but, more to the point, destroyed all the carefully created momentum of Bach's Mass, so that when he finally got around to playing the final movement it was pretty much impossible to step back into the music. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who would do that to Bach doesn't deserve to be an usher, let alone a conductor. If there is a God, Valentin Radu will be struck by lightning on his way home tonight (thus making him a conductor of an entirely different sort).

I don't know who this Valentin Radu guy is, but if he really feels so strong a need for a soapbox I suggest he join politics or becomes a school principal or something. Anything but a musician. Oh, and Mr. Radu, if you're reading this (which I very much doubt) the whole prima donna I-am-so-moved-by-the-music-I'm-going-to-stand-there-with-my-eyes-closed-for-five-minutes-after-the-end act? Not cool. If you want to go in for cheap histrionics like that, I suggest you get yourself a rock band.


[1] My fourth concert featuring Bach in a week. Life has been busy.

[2] By which I mean that she agreed with me that the violin soloist (Thomas DiSarlo) was atrocious, the soprano (Bonnie Hoke) mediocre, the flautist (Colin St. Martin) superb and the mezzo soprano (Jody Kidwell) sublime. I don't usually strike up conversations with people at concerts, but when the person sitting next to you claps for the same people you do and, more to the point, stops clapping for the same people you do, some conversation seems in order.


Space Bar said...

I-am-so-moved-by-the-music-I'm-going-to-stand-there-with-my-eyes-closed-for-five-minutes-after-the-end act


Oh, ok. Now that I've copy-pasted it here I can see the whole thing. Some parts of it were getting cut off, you know - it all stopped at 'eye'.

Chevalier said...

He actually did that? Whoa. I thought only Delta Airline stewardesses and passengers went so ga-ga over soldiers.

Next time maybe you should go as a bald young (white) man in camouflage and ask him to shut the f*** up and play.

Veena said...

"If there is a God, Valentin Radu will be struck by lightning on his way home tonight"

Wouldn't help would it? Other than to prove that yes, he is indeed a bad conductor, no?

Falstaff said...

SB: Ya, sorry, didn't realize that.

chevalier: I have to admit I found the 'our Lord' bits a lot more annoying than the soldier bits. So maybe I should have gone as a bearded old (white) man and asked him to shut the f*** up and play, no? Also, what do you mean 'next time' you don't seriously expect that I'm going to subject myself to another performance by this idiot? As far as I'm concerned Mr. Radu is persona non grata.

veena: do realize I already made that joke in the post don't you? Also yawn.

Veena said...

Ya obv. Just trying to link to places where the joke has been made in a rather elaborate fashion. In a way that only people trained in certain subjects (and have a certain tolerance for nonsense) can appreciate.

chevalier said...

But you know what the real irony is? Radu-dude didn't GET that by quietly playing the music, he would've paid the best 'tribute of them all'. Especially because he was playing Bach, the original religious nut of them all (don't get me wrong, I love Bach, but he wasn't like Brahms or Stravinsky, who were more like Ali Akbar Khan & co. - disbelievers with unworldly talent). Your conductor was not just uber-religious at the wrong time, he also was religious in the wrong way - all he needed to do was channel his feelings into his work.

Well, he didn't understand music.

Falstaff said...

Chevalier: Exactly. That's why I was more annoyed by the religious bits.

And I really wish you wouldn't say "Your conductor". I refuse to be associated with the guy in any way.