Friday, February 17, 2012

To the Bolero

For the past couple of weeks, I've been binging on Rachmaninov, Elgar and Dvorak. It's a journey of re-discovery of sorts, I've not given my classical music CDs time of day for years. I'm not sure why but in the past few years, my music repertoire has largely been pop. Perhaps I can blame it on the American Idol syndrome where everything has to be bite-sized and immediately accessible.

But ever since I moved house and acquired a new sound system in my office, I started revisiting my classical music CD collection... and it's been nice. It's stirring without being distracting - important for when I'm working.

The best part though, is that Lesley-Anne now enjoys listening to classical music with me. Being in the band CCA has a large part to play. Where she used to know about orchestral instruments only in theory, she now knows them by experience and this makes a world of difference. The music makes more sense to her and she's able to appreciate the performance.

I like that she's able to enjoy the music simply for what it is, without pretension. Too often, I find that there's a huge preconception about classical music and by association, classical music lovers ("snooty, "irrelevant", "boring" - take your pick). It's like there are people who listen to classical music... and then there's everybody else. So much so that it seems as if the onus is on classical music to justify why it's relevant in today's society.

I personally don't see why classical music needs to be apologetic. It's just there to be enjoyed by anyone who would give it a chance. Some people will never like it, some people won't try, it's ok. It's not the fault of classical music and it shouldn't therefore be dumbed down to the lowest denominator. You wouldn't dilute red wine with Ribena just so more people will find it palatable, would you?

Having said that however, it's always nice to see members of the classical music fraternity make an effort to make it more accessible. It's like sharing your favourite recipe or restaurant with a friend - "Here, try this. I hope you'll enjoy it."

What led me to this point was the fact that I was playing Ravel's Bolero one night and Lesley-Anne told me she remembered hearing it at an SSO concert I brought her to when she was probably about 7 or 8. She said it made an impression cos she was fascinated by the repeated melody.

For those who are not aware, Bolero is a very unusual orchestra work because it consists of only one melody that's repeated over and over until it reaches a climax. Funny how it's so addictive. It became Ravel's most well known work.

Lesley-Anne then alerted me to a flash mob of Bolero that was performed last year by the Copenhagen Philharmonic at Copenhagen Central Station. I searched for it on YouTube and by golly, it's the classiest flash mob I've ever seen. Both her question and mine though, was "how on earth did the timpani guy appear and disappear so quickly?"

Here, try this. I hope you'll enjoy it.


ada said...

Like you, our classical CDs have been in cold storage too long. Inspired now to break out the Bolero! Thanks a mil for sharing the video - it's uber cool! I'm showing it to my kids and they love it!!! :)

It didn't surprise me too much that Audrey (who has been to just a few classical concerts but sat through them rather restlessly) remarked during the video, "Why can't they all dress like this instead of gowns and black & white when playing this kind of music.. that's just too (here comes the B-word!!) BORING." :D

There's definitely hope to make "this kind of music" much more relatable to a whole new generation :) Time to enjoy some classicial tunes!!


monlim said...

Yay Ada, so glad to hear there's a new convert! I guess the austere outfits don't help much to change the stuffy image of classical music and I agree with Audrey, the flash mob style is way more interesting :)

Who knows, when Audrey is a teenager and happens to hear Bolero, she might just say, "I remember this cool video Mum showed me."

Enjoy your tunes!

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