After more than eight years in Las Vegas, where an evening out could cost several hundred dollars, I’m thankful that, in addition to a proliferation of outdoor pursuits, Utahns generally have access to many affordable cultural venues. Throughout the year there are thought provoking and educational movies and lectures, affordable musical concerts, monthly art-gallery strolls. Add these activities to keeping up with family here, our Osher classes, and a little travel now and then, and you can see our retirement keeps us very, very busy!
Thanks to a little help from a couple of our “longer haired,” more locally-informed friends, and our student status (through Osher membership), Hubby and I have enjoyed an inexpensive summer reacquainting ourselves with western classical music. At Westminster College, we enjoyed evenings of chamber music sessions featuring Brahms, Dvorak, Schoenberg, Chopin, and Mendelssohn.
Friday night we ventured out once again to Temple Square to meet a few of our friends for an evening of summer entertainment. As previously, back in may (Night Out At Temple Square), we began with dinner at The Lion House Pantry. Dinner there is inexpensive, served cafeteria style so that you can see what you’re going to eat before you order it, and tends to be very much like the food a great majority of Americans of a certain age used to eat at “grandma’s house.”
Entrees always seem to include an offering of pork, beef, chicken, and fish similarly cooked, plus several side choices of vegetables and salads. The homemade rolls and the desserts, especially the chocolate cream or the berry pies and the carrot cake are real crowd pleasers. Although this is NOT really a place for vegetarians, Hubby is able to eat here very cheaply by ordering a plate of side veggies at just 99¢ each, plus another $2 for dessert, so he doesn’t miss protein one little bit while I indulge my meat tooth.
After dinner, we all enjoyed the late summer gardens as we strolled leisurely through Temple Square on the way to the opening of the Salt Lake Tabernacle concert series gala for 2007. The program for the evening included four of the most acclaimed movements of Greig‘s Peer Gynt Suite, (Morning Mood, Anitra’s Dance, Ase’s Death, and In The Hall of the Mountain King); followed by one of my all-time classical favorites, Greig’s Piano Concerto in A Minor performed by guest conductor Jorge Luis Prats. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the first notes of which almost everyone knows (ta, ta, ta, tum . . . ta, ta, ta, tum) finished out the evening’s program.
This was music I understood, familiar pieces I could wrap my ears around. I confess that Schoenberg’s compositions using the “twelve-tone” method he devised, is almost too complicated and completely detached from “traditional” music in terms of melody, rhythm, and harmony. Composers like those I mentioned above are easier for me to follow through “logical” harmonic progressions, melodic lines, and a sense of pulse or rhythm. In serial music, or that of Schoenberg and other modern composers of the early 1900s, the listener is only aware of unrepeated and unpredictable sounds presented in such random fashion as to be too complex for my relatively undeveloped musical ear.
Having said all that, as well as admitting that I have an undeveloped ear and very little formal exposure, I hasten to add that I’ve always loved classical music, ever since my oldest brother introduced me to Rachmaninov‘s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini when I was 11 or 12 years old. I took piano lessons as an adult and played easier versions of many beautiful pieces, but arthritic fingers forced me to give up my piano a few years back. It now resides at my daughter’s house down the street. When she has the time, I’m hoping she begins to re-connect with the talent for piano that she demonstrated briefly during her teen years.
If you’re still with me after reading this boring post this far, then you definitely deserve a treat. Especially if you erroneously think that I actually know anything about “long-hair” music! I’d like you to meet Olive from Sydney, Australia. I figure with 108-year-old Olive as my new role model (i.e., never too old to learn and enjoy new music), even Schoenberg will eventually make sense to me. This video from YouTube shows her watching and hearing her first opera performance. (To read and learn more about Olive, by all means, explore here).