Long and incomplete, just like the future


I keep trying to write posts about stuff I have been up to and then losing momentum and stalling out with them half-complete. So this time I'm going to try and write a quick run-down of stuff significant enough for me to still remember it from this year.

(why do this? because for some reason I've got it stuck in my head that I've got write up to date with what I've been up to before I can post any other stuff I've got that I want to write and say)

Way back in February I got my eye caught by an ad in the paper about a concert at the opera house that I wanted to see. Ultimately ended up buying tickets to see three, two of them with my sister as guest. First concert we went to see was the Legend of Zelda Symphony. That was the first time I'd ever paid to see a concert and the first time I'd ever been in so fancy a venue. Was pretty nervous, although ultimately the crowd seemed pretty laid back. Some folk were even doing cosplay, which was cool. Afterward someone asked a Link cosplayer if ey could get a photo which I thought was neat.

The music was pretty good and fun, and I liked the interludes with explanations which I have since learned is not usual for these concerts. Biggest disappointment with my sister and I is that almost nohing from Majora's Mask was featured, which I think is the first Zelda game we played. Also feel like I've got to say I felt like it wasn't really a 'proper' symphony since there was no overarching structure, just four orchestral pieces and a small cloud of satellite pieces.

Second concert we went to was a performance by Dead Can Dance, which sadly was too loud for my comfort threshold so I can't say much about that. It's a shame. I think I like the music otherwise although I don't have so much experience with them personally.

The third concert I attended that week was called "Legends by the Sea", subtitled "Ashkenzy Conducts Sibelius". That was the one I saw advertised that got me attending any of them. The performance order for the concert was changed from what I had printed in the program. I believe as performed it went:

La Mer - Claude Debussy
Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande - Gabriel Fauré (including Mélisande's Song)
Lemminkäinen Suite - Jean Sibelius

Originally the Lemminkäinen Suite was to make up the portion of the concert prior to the interval. A lot of why I wanted to attend this concert was because it would be conducted by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's principal conductor, Vladimir Ashkenazy (plus I wanted to explore the music of Sibelius more and think highly of Debussy).

When I was a child my grandmother gave me one of her CDs of piano music. Eventually I realised that a great many of the performances on this album I cherished were by Vladimir Ashkenazy. Years later I heard also that he had become a conductor, probably about when he took his position with the SSO. I still didn't look into attending concerts then because I assumed rightly it was not the sort of thing I could readily afford.

I suppose it was an extended moment of weakness when I saw this advertised? And I did not realise that there are frequent orchestral performances at the opera house, as in multiple times weekly. So it felt like a special occasiona and I took it, and found out about the Legend of Zelda Symphony which was assuredly a special occasion, and that there were tickets still available for the Dead Can Dance concert my sister had been urging me to see for several months.

Annoyingly I was pretty tired and had difficulty staying awake for the entire concert. This has been a bit of a frustrating trend for me. The Lemminkäinen Suite was the highlight for me, and I did think it felt more like a symphony than e.g. the Legend of Zelda Symphony had, despite being officially a suite. The piece I was least interested in was the suite from Pelléas et Mélisande. Fauré has never yet done much for me. It was still pretty fantastic to be there and see the music made. That has been a lot of the benefit for me, getting to see what actions correspond to what sounds, the actions of the conductor in conducting, getting to see the performers as people at work. A different angle of appreciation for music as a human endeavour.

Anyway, that adventure was fantastic, but it cost me a lot of my available funds. Took me several months to save back up to where I was, and then I spent that on further concert attendance, although I did on account of the cost not follow through on some others I had planned to see in March.

The library where I work meanwhile hired some other casual employees during the autumn season. A couple of months later that has begun cutting into the hours I am given. Where I had been accustomed to working 30-40 hours/fortnight (minimum typically 30, busy times in the 40-50 range), I'm not getting 20-30 hours/fortnight, and several times under 20 hours before accounting for additions after the roster gets sent out. This has been coming sometimes close to my ability to pay my bills, and I'm pretty fortunate as bills go since I still have a home and food provided by my family for a nominal cost in board (plus I try and cook dinner a couple of times a week).

What I'm saying is I should be okay so long as my hours don't get any lower. I'm doing better on that than the other casuals, with the hours I am getting at the high end of what any casual gets.

Before that reduction in my hours had kicked in, I had enough money saved up again to afford some more tickets - this time without guest, as my sister declined my offer - and some pieces to be performed dear enough to my heart that they felt unmissable. I ended up seeing three again.

The first of that set was the organ symphony, featuring what appears to be the standard three pieces.
Symphony No. 29 in A - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Concerto for seven wind instruments, timpani, percussion and strings - Frank Martin
Symphony No. 3 in C minor - Camille Saint-Saëns

I booked this one close enough to the performance date that they would not mail out the ticket to me - though the others I had booked at the same time as this did both arrive before the day - and I had to collect my ticket in person before the performace. This was difficult. After proving I had indeed purchased the ticket, I had to implore the ticketer not to follow up on eir offer to change the name and sex on my account to match the name on my identification or how I was read.

I was tired. I struggled to stay awake through the Mozart. I think I remember the concerto being interesting, but nothing about it in particular. The organ symphony was why I was there, however, and what the concert was named for. Getting to witness it performed in person was fantastic and I learned a lot that I hadn't known, like the presence of pianos in the symphony, and that the organ comes in much, much earlier than I had realised.

The other two were performed during the day, and since I still had trouble staying awake through the day I figure it must be something wrong about me. Maybe the exhaustion of travelling in to the city when I normally do not travel? Or perhaps I am just so tired generally that kept distracting myself with any task more demanding than that of listening or waiting I am like to fall asleep? Don't know, don't like it.

Of those two, the first concert seems to have been given the title 'Spellbound'. On a later day, one of my co-workers told me she had seen me at the opera house, being there herself to watch the same performance, but that I had vanished before she could say hello and had not seen me again. That is unfortunate, although I also feel a bit awkward about being seen outside a work context by people I work with.

The first piece performed was The Song of the Nightingale by Igor Stravinsky, and that is where I struggled to stay awake. Disappointed by this as it was I think wholly new to me, and I wish I had been awake to develop a better sense of the piece. The second piece was The Rite of Spring also by Igor Stravinsky, and the main reason I was there that day despite having to sit behind the orchestra in order to get a seat. One of my favourite pieces and though I think I prefer still to be in a more usual front-seating, was quite fascinating getting this up-close from one side perspective on the orchestra, seeing the musicians come onto stage with coffee on hand, being people, getting such a good view of the percussion section particularly.

I was surprised that the final performance for the concert, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, was the highlight for me. Really, quite surprising. Expected it to be something I would be indifferent to.

The last concert I won't go piece by piece through. It was the following day, presented as a 'tea and symphony' event. I did not realise until arriving that this meant actual complimentary tea being served prior. This concert was a solo organ recital. Another attended as an opportunity to see one of my favourite pieces performed live, the less than certainly Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. That was spectacular. Truly amazing and well worth witnessing. The other highlight for me was Mozart's Fantasia in F minor for mechanical organ, K608.

Sadly for much of the rest of the concert I was struck by anxiety or something similar, trapped reliving bad times and forcing myself not to make a break for the exit. Stopped me from forming much impression of the remainder of the music.

Cutting and posting here - this is as far as I got several weeks ago (I don't remember how many exactly). Figure I am best off putting up what I had, as apparently there is no way I am finishing the entire post no matter how much or how many times I may have intended to.