2010 Concert - July event

 "Trip to America"

St James Church, Central Lower Hutt.
Saturday, 3th July, 7:30 pm.

Brief review

The concert was a series of 12 short pieces,  with an American (US) theme.

timing the Cage 4'33"It opened with 4 minutes of unannounced, off-the-programme silence. This was the famous (or infamous) 4'33" of John Cage, four minutes 33 seconds of silence during which the only activities were the orchestra turning pages over and snuffling between movements. The audience took it in good part - or perhaps were quietly concerned for a conductor apparently trying to  remember what the baton was for. The orchestra was serious, so the audience was serious. The most noticible sound was the traffic on the nearby roundabout - which I had never noticed during concerts before. In keeping with the US theme, I counted the final movement using Mississippi-1, Mississippi-2,... to Mississippi-93, which wasn't too bad, as I later found it is exactly 100 seconds long.

There was surprisingly little coughing, nothing noticable. Perhaps audiences brochial tubes respond to ambient sound.  There is an unconscious dynamic from pp (panting prohibited) to fff (frenetic fullsome foghorns). You only notice it when someone miscounts, and comes in a bar too early.  Here we had 4'33" of ppp - people playing possum.

To music and the played concert...

Brass eagle   
Brass playing the Parade of the Sandwich-Board Men. This Billy Mayerl piece has life and movement. Given that it was written over 70 years ago, it is reasonable to picture back then large numbers of these walking adverts, all keeping step as they had nowhere to go, but being paid to be on the go.

This was followed by a Suite of Gershwin melodies, then the lively Chicago by Kander and Ebb. Next was  a somewhat longer piece, the four movement Missippi Suite by Grofe. 
Brass asking the unaswered question
The first half concluded with the lovely Variations on a Shaker Melody by Copland.

 The opening piece of the second half was also an experimental piece - but now over a hundred years old and still played. It was Charles Ives"The Unanswered Question" which is posed by the Brass from the rear of the church. 
Wind off-stage
The question is answered by the woodwind - split into two sections off-stage, each giving ever more strident and unsatisfactory atonal answers. Throughout, the strings are playing a lovely tonal air in complete disregard to the repeated questioning.
Bonnie Riley and Orchestra 
Bonnie Riley singing three Jazz pieces. "The Very Thought of You", "Cry Me a River", and "I've got Rhythm". All three pieces were thoroughly enjoyable.


The concert was concluded by the "Second Waltz" by Shostakovich. Of all the pieces, this one has the most tenuous US connection - it is the theme tune to a US movie. It was a pleasure to listen to, and ended the concert in style.