If the San Diego Symphony wants another blog beyond their own, surely the organization has the resources to hire erudite, genteel sophisticates who sip Screaming Eagle Cabernet (1992, of course) while using adjectives like floccinaucinihilipilificatively to describe the 84th violin part of Mahler’s 8th Symphony.
And no doubt scores of real music critics will take offense at my hubris in posting reviews (as though any real critic will read my stuff…). Any real critic is more intimately acquainted with every piece of Classical music than I. Except possibly Camille Saint-Saëns‘ Allegro Appassionato.
That caveat comes with my backstory.
I played trumpet and euphonium, both poorly, in elementary school.
I didn’t hit puberty until roughly age 37, so vocally was a high tenor and sang with my school choir and Barbershop Quartet through 12th grade.
I started playing electric bass in 11th grade. Cut my teeth on Geddy Lee. Did more dental work on Motown legend, James Jamerson. Yanked out impacted molars on Jaco Pastorius. And had a root canal on Anthony Jackson‘s catalog of work.
At Applachian State University, I was determined to make less money after college than real musicians. So I majored in Philosophy.
My first sophomore year I heard Ray Brown on Double Bass and HAD to play that instrument. There wasn’t a Double Bass instructor in the music program so I worked through Simandl I and II with a Cello teacher.
For the uninitiated, “Simandl” is a sequential guide for how to torture yourself on every inch of the Double Bass’ 146 square feet of fingerboard. German or French bow matters less than the overall misery.
I completed my studies by ruining Saint-Saëns’ masterwork in b minor. My self review:
- “An unstable AND unpleasant sound!”
- “The left hand didn’t know what the right was doing. And certainly vice-versa.”
Ultimately, I earned a minor in music, freelanced (Jazz, Top 40, Big Band, Theater, even a fun sight-reading Polka gig…) until it was time to get a real job, and have performed on and off since.
So my exposure to Classical music has been limited compared to real critics.
I hope my naiveté and inability to pass up a one-liner will speak to readers who want a different, if slightly unhinged, perspective. Those less familiar with the music can ride my associations “backwards” into a different appreciation of an audience member’s experience.
And hopefully be inspired to attend more of the Symphony’s live performances. For the record, I don’t get paid or benefit economically in any way for doing this.
Finally, I hope my willingness to be moved by and publicly praise their performances will provide a morale boost to Symphony members.
My reactions will highlight what I enjoy about the San Diego Symphony. I’m not interested in playing “gotcha” with the musicians as a cheap way to sound discerning. Instead, I’ll draw attention to the moments that move me.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!