Free Symphony? Yes Please!

8:00 AM

It's not often the Symphony does free gigs, so when it does, you better believe Kyle and I jump at the chance to be there.  There is nothing more beautiful and moving than live music from a symphony.

The Symphony currently performs at Robinson Center Music Hall which is about to undergo serious renovations which will make it impossible for any performances to take place there over the next few years. So the Symphony is searching for temporary replacement venues. Since this is a process which requires feedback from their patrons, they decided to offer some free performances with the request that attendees provide feedback on the acoustics, view, etc.

This week, Kyle happened to find out that they were giving a free Open Rehearsal at the Statehouse Convention Center on Friday night at 7:15.  He RSVP'd for all of us, we got semi-dressed up, and made a night of it.

We didn't know at the time what sort of performance it would be, other than that they would be playing music from Pirates of the Caribbean and Gladiator. What we didn't know was that it wasn't a true performance, but a rehearsal for a performance which would take place on Saturday evening in Hope, Arkansas.  I almost think watching this rehearsal was more exciting than even seeing them perform the actual show.  For starters, there was an informality about the evening that was welcoming and charming. You felt very connected to the whole symphony and like you were part of a secret performance or something.

The conductor, a genius and coincidentally, a really nice guy, is Phillip Mann. He's really young, and unlike a lot of tyrant conductors, including some the symphony has had in the past, he is approachable, fun and vivacious.  Not to mention amazing.  Turns out Kyle had invited him to speak at a StoneWard event last year, and he remembered Kyle, so they chatted before the show! 

The event was held in a giant ballroom, and the turnout for this free event was phenomenal. The place was totally packed. People were dressed in everything from formal wear to jeans and totally casual attire.  There were even lots of kids.  Including mine! And wouldn't you know we ended up sitting on the very front row, which gave us a great view of the orchestra warming up, interacting, as well as an invitation for the kids to go up on stage and check out some of the proceedings. They were so thrilled!

They told us at the beginning that this was a rehearsal and that the conductor would occasionally stop the music and give to hold our applause and just observe and listen. 

I think that aspect of the evening was amazing. They would play through a piece and then Phillip would have talk to different sections of the symphony, giving them specific instructions, sometimes stopping the song, other times just calling things out to them over the music. He yelled out music terms like "Fortissimo!!!! Tutti!"  He would hear things in the overall music and halt them, and specifically instruct one instrument, then call out certain measures to be repeated. It was truly fascinating.  Periodically, he would motion to his assistant conductor, have him take over conducting, hop off stage and run to the back of the room to better hear the overall quality of the music. I felt like we were backstage.

And the music was so breathtaking. Moving. I am blown away by the power of music to touch you. It's therapeutic and healing and cleansing and spiritual and lovely.  There were times I felt my jaw drop open and other times my foot just tapped along or I couldn't help but just grin. They played a selection from Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom of the Opera, a Tango and The Overture to the Barber of Seville. We left at the break at 9:15 because we hadn't eat dinner yet and were all starving!

I was so proud of my kids who sat still and attentive throughout the performance. Even Dorien! Although, to be honest, he looked at pictures on Kyle's iphone the whole time. But it kept him quiet and entertained. And Brooklyn and August sat mesmerized and interested. It was a fantastic evening! 

Here is a sample of what they played.

Afterwards, we had veggie pizza at Iriana's Pizza. It was delicious and the perfect end to a wonderful evening.

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