Friday, May 03, 2013
Concert report: National Symphony Orchestra plays the Shostakovich 5th
I wasn't going to post about this experience. Really. Who cares about a concert if they weren't there to hear it?
But at the moment, I haven't anything else to write about except the impending dissolution of Western civilization, and that would bring me down.
Life goes on. Last night I set my course for the Kennedy Center in Washington for a National Symphony Orchestra concert. My wife was out of town and I was tired of my own company, and besides, I was attracted by the program: the Elgar Cello Concerto and Shostakovich Symphony no. 5.
Is there -- hang on; this is peripheral so I should frame it in parentheses.
(Is there a concert venue anywhere in the universe uglier than the Kennedy Center? Probably, but I hope never to see it. The Kennedy Center is the nadir of 1960s architectural vulgarity. It should have a sign above each of its two entrances: "Abandon taste, all ye who enter here."
(I should add, parenthetically within parentheses, which requires brackets: [Unlike New York's Lincoln Center, this monstrosity is not dedicated to the refined arts. Yes, it has a concert hall where the orchestra plays, and an opera house; it used to have a movie theater; it still has a musical theater which has offered a comedy, Shear Madness, continuously since the age of the Pharaohs. Our nation's capital doesn't have enough of an audience to sustain a center for highbrow culture, and needs to pull in the tourist crowd with blockbuster shows, including Broadway musicals in the opera theater.]
(The Kennedy Center is so "cold" and crude you can't imagine it if you haven't been there. The interior walls are vast, Forest Lawn-like slabs of white marble; the carpet throughout the corridors garish red. The centerpiece of the decor is a Stalinist, supersized gold-colored bust of JFK. They are constantly adding more video screens and posters throughout the halls, maybe recognizing that anything which distracts you from the interior has to be an improvement.
(There's a pleasant terrace outside where you can enjoy views of the Potomac and planes on approach to or climb from Reagan National when the weather isn't too hot or cold, that is, perhaps 10 percent of the time in Washington. But then you turn around and see the Kennedy Center's exterior. More mausoleum marble walls, incised here and there with quotations from His Holiness John F. Kennedy ("ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU. ASK ME HOW MARILYN MONROE WAS IN THE SACK."). The roof is supported by bizarre metallic beams painted a mustard shade.
(What vision did the architect have? A James Bond movie production design?
(That concludes our parenthetical diversion. I see I have already exhausted your patience. I will write about the concert itself in the next post.)