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Concert Journal: Premonitions, Oregon Symphony 5, May, 2013 As sentient beings, we exist in a constant state of interpretation.

Whether deliberately or instinctually, our environment surrounds us with a perpetual flow of messages, which when received are assigned meanings and responses, becoming a barrage of analysis. Indeed, for a group addressing complexity, interpreting becomes an obvious primary tool to consult. I am interested to make contact with what other faculties are engaged as experience is processed, and the present forum under examination, the Concert Hall, is historically designed to offer some unique variations of stimuli. A standard spatial arrangement architecturally defined as an auditorium positions the spectacle and spectator face to face, and features structural gestures that are spherical in a manner that makes it possible to trace a path of perception to and from all directions. Hence one becomes inside the action taking place, as from the source of the spectacle sound is transmitted continually at all points within the surface area enclosed by the hall. As ornate as the interior may be, the absence of specific images allows for the shapes and Rococo reliefs to be a presence to absently gaze at or simply enjoy being amidst. I understand it as a means of spatial hypnosis that distracts one from reality just enough to have ones sensual receptors maximized for whatever is to be performed. Titled Premonitions, the program is loosely themed on energy and death in the preliminary words of conductor Carlos Kalamar. In a sense, establishing these intentions and notating the sequence as a whole have done the service of freeing up the part of my consciousness that would be otherwise preoccupied with a certain impulse to interpret, to concern myself with the larger context, thereby easing this mental tic of sorts. It doesnt matter in the least, in retrospect, if I made or make any connections between these themes and the pieces/ performances or not because their vague presences were merely a continuum upon which the music occurred, unified in time and space as a macro- unit. As the afternoon settles in its temporal place in memory, it is the unification that becomes apparent rather than the words

that describe the motifs, and even my own superficial expectations of a work like The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie are essentially erased. At the time I wanted, and was prepared to enjoy, camp. Upon subsequently listening to the recordings in German and following the text closely, I recognize that it was a melancholy in the songs that I was failing to perceive in fullness, purely due to my own preconceptions, and this awareness reinforces the seat of the individual piece within the continuum of the other works on the program. To notice this would not be possible, or less likely anyway, had the theme been more explicit. My thin set of associations were easily decimated by a larger structure that was allowed to work its effects in the auditorium undiluted by excessive clarification, and the progression from the bombast of Phenomenon to the deceptively sad Sins feels more natural now than it did yesterday. What I have attempted to describe above is a situation, composed by a mixture of experiential and thematic parameters, in which the attainment of some relationship with the now is made possible. I do not know to what extent this does or does not have to do with gestalt theory, but a splendid harmony between the fluid and static qualities of music and architecture is achieved when the relationship between the two is carefully accentuated. As music and time move in a space, it is the space that fixes a sound to its corresponding moment. What I found remarkable is that that careful accentuation not only gave the details of the passing moments a richer life beyond the time of their occurrence, but also deepened my understanding of how care in experiencing moments can be approached. The deliberate mind is not something that comes naturally, or easily, to me, and the learning to listen ideal has far reaching implications beyond the musical. Arnold Schoenbergs Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene stops time dead in its tracks and only allows it to resume once the last note has fully dissipated and a collective breath is taken between the audience and the conclusion. Similarly, film suspends time by pausing ones narrative for the sake of another, detached narrative. In Schoenbergs time, the music of cinema was an opportunity for composers to realize both technological and compositional advancement:

dissonance and abrupt time and volume changes have an obvious purpose when accompanying images, but independently and autonomously are capable of the dissolution of the conventionalized idiomi so resisted by Schoenberg and his comrades. The conventionalized idiom is no less an enemy today and Accompaniment no less a challenge to it. Hollywood soundtracks have always held the potential to be downright insulting, but when situated correctly, sound and image are complementary and one barely notices subtle transitions until they are already underway. To this effect the performance of Accompaniment succeeded in a beautifully disorienting way, the semi-restrained violence in the middle section is there and gone without either buildup or resolution, yet somehow avoids feeling abrupt or contrived. In film this subtlety can be a device employed to smooth over the disjointedness of editing, but watching the music happen right before me felt like an elegant species of illusion if one can be imagined. Although the transition from the Schuberts Unfinished to La Valse makes absolute thematic sense, and really is a programming composition; the less obvious, but I would guess to be equally composed transition from Accompaniment to Unfinished was alarming to me in a way that I did not expect. The composers respective idioms could not be more diametrically opposed, and knowing this, expecting this, accentuated the contrast but also forced me to seek a beauty in Schubert that justifies the contrast. I had approached this sequence prepared to have a laugh at a perfectly conventional version of the Waltz be the prelude to an elaborate expression of its own demise, but following Schoenberg doesnt leave it so nicely tied up . . . if the opener Phenomenon represented the top end of Oregon Symphonys dynamic energy then the Schoenberg piece marvelously gave life to its polar opposite: that of a suspended, extended, and ultimately unresolved pianissimo. To follow the energy given to this loaded quiet is to bring its madness with it, and to hear such lovely unfinished hints at cadence carry with them their inheritance of ten minutes previous is to sit amidst an environment designed to convey this breed of resonance.

Adorno, Theodor and Hans Eisler, Composing for the Films, Continuum, London. 1947. p 33
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