Entry 0060: Last Night Made Beautiful Music Despite the Pain and Devastation


EP: Throwaway / Words and Smiles Split by Bratmobile and Tiger Trap

1992 Four Letter Words FLW 0008, split

Favorite Track: Throwaway

Louis Langrée, Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, walked pensively on to the stage, his tuxedo fastidiously cleaned and pressed. The special concert was about to start. One City One Symphony is a community-wide project to unite the city and its citizens. This concert was even more important: the theme was Freedom in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment and the legacy of Dr. Maya Angelou. Three of her poems were commissioned to be set to music. This was to be a happy, peaceful evening.

But the night before, 128 people were killed with many others wounded by the senseless violence and destruction. Beirut, Yemen, and Nigeria also suffered terrible tragedies. Louis is from France.

But he did not make the night about his own personal pain and fear. He read his speech as joyous as he could muster with few clipped pauses. This was a moment of bravery that will never be spoken about. Tonight was about unity, peace, love, acceptance. It couldn’t be tainted with political and religion based murder.

The first three pieces were Maya Angelou poems set to music with a powerful voice reading. I, unfortunately, had no time to look in the brochure to discover the name of the reader and my little information hunting has not tracked it down. She, however, was wonderful: a combination of authoritative, sad, stirring, and defiant. Sitting on the third floor balcony, I had a little trouble seeing the left side of the symphony. My eyes mostly focused on Louis this time although the cellos and trumpets stole glances time and again. I wonder if I thought he would break down into tears. Part of why I like going to the symphony is because I stop thinking and just take in the music, let it fill me up, my breathing and occasional seat-twitching becoming synchronous to the rhythm of the orchestra.

During Intermission, I talked to my friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. There was so much I wanted to talk about, word vomit spilled from my lips, but I don’t even think I heaved a fourth of everything inside my mind. The same thing happened a couple of nights ago at the closing reception of an art exhibit I curated. I had a whole story planned out and then I expressed it in the most condensed format possible as if I was afraid of boring people.

Dvorak’s Symphony no. 9, or the New World Symphony, is one of my favorites, maybe even my second favorite. I have yet to write out and rank all of my favorite classical music pieces so keep in tune with this blog. The fourth movement, of course, is my favorite with its blasting horns reminiscent of battlefields and barbarians and large oarred ships coming in to dock. I wonder how much Howard Shore was influenced by this symphony for his Lord of the Rings soundtrack. The second movement reeks of the Shire and pipeweed.

I was really impressed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. They caught the intensity of the opening and carried that revolution into the new world of the audience’s listening ears. For a moment, I gave birth to something–not the painful rendering of physical child birth, but the quasi-mythical creation of art–as a free association of images of emotions underscored the instrumentation of the orchestra. The flute as the new American wind carrying gunpowder, tobacco, charred buffalo meat, and the folk songs of the Sioux, the Nez Perce, and the Apache. The violin as the heartbreak of miscarriages, disease, war, slavery, and oppression. Whole motifs as the cycle of life and death. By the end, I was standing on my feet clapping. Louis never broke down. I believe in the power that music can heal.

If you have never been to the symphony, this is one to start with.  This Saturday, I will be attending Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet so be prepared for another review.

As far as the Bratmobile/Tiger Trap split is concerned, what a wonderful two songs. I don’t collect classical music on vinyl sadly, so this selection is kind of arbitrary, but it was a neat find at the Northside Record Fair. First, it is a one-sided record, which is really weird to look at because the back is flat and has no grooves. “Throwaway” is an early Bratmobile song, I believe on Pottymouth. Excellent bass line. The Tiger Trap song is a little more conventional but catchy. Good job ladies!


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