(Young Geoffrey attended an orchestral concert;
(And you won't believe what he did there!)
So, I went Montreal the weekend before last. Yes, I drove, but for a change it wasn't work-related. Raven was my passenger, my sweety, instead of yet another flight crew.
We had gone to see a concert, the Philmarmonium Mundi de Montréal's spring production, held at the Salle de concert Oscar Peterson at Concordia University on the West Island of Montreal. The show featured work by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, as well as a short, original composition by a local, Quebecois, composer.
I'm no connoisseur of classical music and I don't think I've been to a classical concert since my mother took my brother and I to see the Soviet Red Army Orchestra at the Sudbury Arena back when I was still in grade school. Yes, when I was in my teens and early 20s, I made some effort to enlighten myself. Beethoven's 9th Symphony was probably the gateway drug — what teenager could hear that fourth movement and not be transported by the sheer passion in the old maestro's notes? A little Ravel, some Tchaikovsky, and for a while I tried to convince myself that I heard something special in Glen Gould.
But the truth is, most of it went over my head or, at least, didn't much move me. And so I'm not going to start reviewing a classical concert now. I'll just say that, to my under-educated ear, Philharmonium Mundi sounded fine (and the young piano soloist, Jean-Michel Dubé, was a delight, clearly taking great joy in his craft).
But why, you might ask, did Raven and I journey to Montreal to take in a concert in the first place? And why a high-end amateur orchestra's concert?
Plainly-put: family. My favourite uncle, one Marcel Chojnacki, has been a First Violinist with the orchestra for a couple or more years now and I've wanted to see him play for a while. This year, we had enough warning, time and cash on hand, so I booked a car and off we went.
Uncle Marcel is a remarkable man, frankly an inspiring figure, as well as someone I, as an adult, especially, have come to like an awful lot. A Holocaust survivor (see link above) who came to Canada in his mid-teens after the War, he danced with the National Ballet, was a high-school teacher and, now, still teaches ballet, practices Flamenco with a troupe and, yes, plays violin (an instrument he started playing in his 60s) with an orchestra. He is a husband and father and also paints, makes wine, bakes bread and is a consummate and generous host.
I could go on, and on, but this isn't supposed to be about Marcel, it's supposed to be about me, and how I embarrassed Raven at the concert itself.
The show started with Rimsky-Korsakov's Overture de la Grande Pâque Russe, continued with Tchaikovsky's Concerto pour piano No. 1 en si bémol mineu (yes, folks, everything was in French), the aforementioned piano solo by Dubé, and then Sibelius' Symphonie No. 1 en mi mineur.
Nothing to do with Tchaikovsky, but don't tell me Chuck Jones didn't know funny!
As I've said, everything seemed well-played to me, but the Rimsky-Korsakov and the Sibelius left me pretty un-moved; a fort-night after the fact, I can't say much at all about either. As I said, I'm no connoisseur. But the Tchaikovsky ...?
I dunno, maybe I'm a rube, or maybe I've just been ruined by Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies, the piano concerto delighted me! I didn't cry, but I surely did laugh (much to Raven's consternation). I tried to my chuckles quiet (and, I think, mostly succeeded), but chuckle I did.
That is a pretty damned playful piece of music, with arch piano runs chasing each other one way and then the other. No wonder they used them for cartoons! And I feel certain that Tchaikovsky himself meant them to share joy, to amuse. And maybe, to make people laugh.
I know it made me laugh, no at the music but (I think; I hope!) with it.
I dunno. What do you think? Am I a musical peasant, laughing at what I don't understand, or did I actually get the joke? Any aficionados (or otherwise) want to chime in and either correct me or join in with my boorish appreciation?
Our Dear Leader gazes from atop the Archives Canada Preservation Building in Gatineau, Québec. Photo-illustration by Geoffrey Dow. Original photo of Archives Canada Preservation Building by Bruno Schlumberger/Postmedia News
|Young Geoffrey, Art Director. Humanist Perspectives #182, Autumn 2012, should be on fine newstands everywhere (in Canada) next week!|
The previous Art Director begged off this issue for personal reasons and, at this point, I don't know whether he will re-take the reins. But there's no sense in pretending that I don't (for thoroughly selfish personal reasons) hope he decides not to return. The money is nice and I really enjoy the work.
I've become too jaded to say that I was "thrilled" when I got my hands on copies of the magazine yesterday, but I was happy to see them and to feel them for real — a far different experience than seeing something on a screen.
On a technical note, I did the work using open source technologies almost exclusively. LibreOffice for converting all manner of Word files, The Gimp for image manipulation and, especially, a program that has developed by leaps and bounds since I first used it maybe a year and a half-ago, Scribus, which in my humble opinion has become a real layout program. Yes, it still crashes more than I'd like, but if you save your work regularly it's not a serious issue. That last will be getting a donation from me just as soon as I cash my check.
Naturally, I spotted flaws as soon as I opened the magazine, as well as things I will just do differently if I get another crack at it, but all-in-all, I'm pretty pleased with my work. And the back cover cartoon cracks me right up, if I do say so myself.
May 21, 2011. End times!Out into the made raving streets of Ottawa
did Raven and I venture on this day of Judgement!
And yea! the Singaporean restaurant was closed
and crowded and late were the public buses
and lo! the O-Train's route was short and kind of pointless.
And so it was, the tulips were past their best-befores
and the tourists were thin upon the ground.
And badminton, it was played on the steps of the National Archives.
The signs of doom — ah say! the signs of doomuh
were at hand ...