Tuesday, April 07, 2009

No, NO, Not That!

The California Symphony's next concert includes a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition, a piece I'm not all that fond of. Their press release is not encouraging:
Boldly going where no orchestra has ventured before, the California Symphony will take audiences on a virtual space odyssey, when it presents the world’s first live symphonic concert in 3-D on May 3 and 5, 2009.

Commissioned by trailblazing Music Director Barry Jekowsky, the unprecedented event will feature Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition performed to a suite of high-definition videos created by noted astronomer and visualizer Dr. José Francisco Salgado of the prestigious Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
I've been to a couple of concerts where the music was accompanied by videos, and, you know, I just find the visuals a big distraction. Apparently some people think that since we live in such a visual world, an auditory event needs visual accompaniment. Me, I'm perfectly happy to watch the musicians and conductor, and don't want or need much more.


Paul H. Muller said...

We did the same thing at Cal Lutheran last year. The orchestra played "Pictures at an Exhibition" while videos made by upper class art students were shown on the wall.

I was in the brass section and could only sneak a look now and then - and some of the videos were pretty cute - but on the whole it was definitely a distraction. Heard some comments from the audience later to that effect.

Poor Mussorgsky - everybody feels like they have to tinker with his work...

Patty said...

At least they are doing this to a work I could do without.

Listening takes a lot of energy. Adding visuals is, for me, annoying. But I've heard the same thing over and over: "There's nothing to look at!"


Lisa Hirsch said...

Sigh, indeed.

Tim said...

I agree with you, Lisa, I could do without visuals at symphonic concerts. That said, Salgado made a video for "The Planets" that was screened for a Pacific Symphony performance, and it was quite interesting and nicely artsy.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I realize that part of my problem is "Pictures" fatigue. I've heard it twice on piano (once played in a 250-seat hall at a deafening volume more suitable for Carnegie Hall) and once (dully) at SFS, plus I played the thing in high school band. Hmm.

Visuals for "The Planets" could be quite nice, I agree (even though what I see during the Mars movement is Imperial Storm Troopers).

Steve Hicken said...

Were they marching in 5/4?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Of course.