Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cleveland Orchestra: Fridays@7 - Cello and Space [Revised]

Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104
Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

Before I begin, I have to say that the Orchestra's box office is, by far, my favorite Cleveland box office--competence, professionalism, and speed are constant features. But the truly special thing is the wonderfully personal service -- at least one employee knows my order before I've even opened my mouth, and has even remembered my name. You can't buy customer service like that, especially considering I'm neither a donor nor a subscriber.

It wasn't until I was in my seat fingering through the program that I figured out what the "Cello and Space" title for the concert meant. I hate to say it, but this evening didn't posses the same magic as the last Fridays @ 7. It was still a fine evening of entertainment, but I didn't get the euphoric high-energy vibe I got from the previous event...

The playing in the hall was up to the orchestra's usual standards, and as the gentleman in front of me told his wife between movements, "No one plays Dvorak like the Cleveland Orchestra". Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra is probably best known as the theme for 2001: A Space Odyssey and was my favorite of the two pieces. The bass line at the beginning of that piece happened to hit the harmonic of "something" in one of the adjoining boxes causing an interesting, though unintentional, buzzing and demonstrating the power of the orchestra.

The after-entertainment started out interesting but once other instruments started getting added it just became noise, due almost entirely to a sound reinforcement system that seemed inadequate for the size of the crowd it was serving. After the third song, the week of sleeping in hotel rooms, sofas, and the 3 hours of sleep I got last night in seat 4A of a Boeing 757 caught up with me and the siren's song of my own bed was too loud to ignore.

The orchestra is in the unenviable position of needing to grow a younger audience while not alienating their existing patrons. I think the Fridays@7 concept is a good bridge between the two, I just hope that the excitement and energy of the first one can be recaptured going forward.

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