On Sunday afternoon, my sister and I took F.T. and G.N. to DISCOVER “New World” Symphony with the San Antonio Symphony. (The Symphony gave me a set of tickets for my family, and a set to give away; read more in this earlier post.)
F.T. had a big smile on his face during the performance. He noticed that Dvořák’s symphony has four movements; after the final movement, we asked him what he thought about the music. He said:
I liked all four songs.
We asked him what he thought about the orchestra. He said:
It was good. And it was loud.
We asked him to pick a favorite instrument. He said:
But we think he meant the French horns, because there were no tubas on stage.
G.N. got a little wiggly during the concert, but she was by no means the youngest symphony patron at the Majestic Theatre.
The DISCOVER series concerts feature musical examples and commentary by Conductor and Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing. To introduce Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World,” Lang-Lessing brought together a variety of multimedia materials. He played recordings of birdsongs, and then conducted the orchestra playing the musical passages inspired by those birdsongs. To illustrate the African American and Native American influences in the “New World” Symphony, Lang-Lessing played a recording of the spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and an actor read passages from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Song of Hiawatha. During the complete performance, the big screen sometimes zoomed in on Lang-Lessing’s face while conducting, or focused on a soloist.
During the second movement’s famous English horn solo, I cried. It’s a stunningly beautiful melody, using the notes of the pentatonic scale, as Lang-Lessing explained, giving it a universal, cross-cultural feeling. To hear such glorious music played live, while holding my kids close, brought tears to my eyes. Maybe someday when I am gone they will hear that melody (or one like it) and will think of me, and remember our going to concerts together. If they have kids, I hope they will take them to symphony, too. This music will outlive us all.
The Symphony is planning one more DISCOVER concert this season, DISCOVER Schubert “The Great”, on May 11, 2014 at the Majestic Theatre. For a review of the Symphony’s evening performance of the “New World” Symphony, see “S.A. Symphony performs Dvorák Festival finale”, David Hendricks, San Antonio Express-News, February 8, 2014. This earlier post has F.T.’s review of “The Nutcracker.” (Is this becoming a series?)
Disclosure: The San Antonio Symphony gave me tickets for my family to use at the performance, and four tickets to give away.