Thursday, March 16, 2006

Yo-Yo Ma (and me)

L. and I made the short walk to the symphony tonight for an 8 pm concert. It was our second trip this year, our first time to hear Yo-Yo Ma. We were fortunate to see James Levine conduct our first visit (he is currently undergoing surgery for an arm injury suffered during on on-stage tumble a few weeks ago). Yo-Yo Ma was the superstar draw and he did give an impressive performance wailing away at this cello. Both L. and I, however, preferred the Ligeti piece. He is one crazy Transylvanian composer, excuse or bias.

Symphony hall is impressive with its wall of organ, ornate gilding, mythological statues, and eclectic crowd. It is worth going just to eavesdrop on the rich array of strange, strange conversations. There are some serious orchestra fans out there.

It is amazing to live within walking distance to the hall, and so many other art venues (not to mention independent book stores, boutiques, etc.--and, of course, a Dunkin Donut on every corner.)

This year in Boston reminds me of the riches of living in Rome, where I studied during college. Indeed, it does feel like I am "living abroad" here in Boston for the year. Only this time I have the cash to go to concerts and eat in restaurants. Truthfully, the free concerts in Roman churches still rival any ticketed event here. The romantic memories of a college year in bella italia are hard to top.

While Yo-Yo Ma was making his cello sing, my mind drifted here and there. I thought of my first cello solo experience back in college. It was a fall night at Notre Dame, waiting in line to buy football tickets. Matt came by (I don't remember his last name! roommate of B.) and played a simple piece (was it by Bach?). I was entranced by that impromptu cello under the stars. In my book, his performance beats Yo-Yo. So, wherever you are Matt, I am sending you my thanks!

Here is a link to the program notes for the concert we heard this evening:

David Robertson, conductor
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Ligeti, Shumann, Strauss

And an excerpt from Shumann's Cello Conerto

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