You may or may not know that Patrick Vaz likes to sit close to the action. Really close, in the first three or so rows of whatever performance he's attending. Me, I shy away from this for various reasons, especially following the unfortunate choice of a seat in the second row for a performance of Turangalila. My god but that was loud. I decided to be more careful in the future.
So this past weekend, I turned up around fifteen minutes before the Ensemble Zellig concert at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, expecting to be able to get a seat without any difficulties. To my surprise, I got a $20 community rush seat, when I'd been expecting to pay $42. More to my surprise, the seat was in the front row not too far off center, two seats from Patrick, who'd actually bought a ticket two days earlier.
I thought about moving, in part because I don't like to have my turned for the duration of a performance, but then figured I might as well experiment. Because of the small forces on the program (piano, cello, clarinet, flute), there was little risk of a Turangalila-style sonic overload.
"Little risk" turned out not to mean "no risk." One of the works on the program was pretty darned loud, giving me that head-between-the-speakers feeling. It was cool to be so close to the flute player for the solo flute work that opened the program - and just how did she make a plucking sound on a flute in one of the other pieces?? - but I'm not going to try this again.
I missed the lack of hall perspective and having an easy view of the whole stage. I would have been a lot happier someplace in the center toward the back of the hall; it's not as though there is ever a problem with hearing what's going at Hertz. So for now I'll consider this a one-time experiment that I'm unlikely to repeat.