in review


Written Sunday morning, back dated so it would appear in line with the other Saturday posts as I only show one days worth of posts on the front page.

I didn't get a chance to post my final thoughts from the Saturday performance of SSUTS, so I will now (I should have been using this acronym for the Sobeys Symphony Under the Sky yesterday, would have saved me some precious typing time). I had some grand ideas about what I would be posting about before I got to the park, but I realized during the show that I wanted to structure my posts to approximately one post per piece... and in the midst of trying to enjoy the music and take some photos of the event that did not violate any terms of agreement with the orchestra (although I did see many other photographers there taking pictures to their hearts content, but there was no formal announcement made instructing patrons(?) not to take photos), I had to sacrifice some of my wordier notions in order to get posts up in real time. However, I have collected my thoughts and I have plenty of time available to me now, so I will proceed with my review/overview/synposis/debrief of last night's performance. I will warn you, this may be long winded as I'm in the mood to document my entire experience. We'll see where this takes me.

For me, the experience of any sort of event begins on my way to the venue. Aryn and I are ardent pedestrians and we constantly face the challenge of figuring out how we will get anywhere. We don't mind this hassle, if we owned a car we would constantly be figuring out how we would park it, not to mention all the other responsibilities that owning a vehicle entails. I'm generally quite happy to walk everywhere (makes me feel a bit like a perpetual tourist, particularly since I'm often walking around with a camera) but time and distance plays a big part in my decision to rely solely on my feet. In planning the trek to Hawrelak, I soon discovered that ETS would be providing free shuttle service from the Park N' Ride at the university. There problem solved. All we needed to do was hop on the LRT to the University and we'd have no issues. However, the LRT was not running across the river as they are in the process of replacing the signal lights on the LRT bridge. Instead we would have to take the LRT shuttle from Corona to the University. This all seemed like a perfectly reasonable solution, and had we arrived at home with enough time to eat dinner all would have been well and good. In the end, we ate a rushed supper of rewarmed (but delicious) potato and leek soup, and then almost at the moment we lay our spoons down the taxi arrived to take us to the park.

You may wonder why I bore you all with this story of transportation, but for me getting to and from a place is half the battle (others might tell the story of trying to park their car) and I always appreciate any efforts by an event organizer to make getting there to be as easy as possible. Speaking of which, when we arrived at the park, our taxi had to let us off near the entrance of the closest parking lot. It's a bit of a distance from the amphitheatre and I was beginning to get worried that we were going to arrive late. However, one of the helpful volunteers who was driving the golf cart shuttle (provided mostly for seniors I presume) had no passengers and invited us to hop on. Aryn is a strapping twenty-something (as am I, although less strapping and more sturdy), so we generally don't get to experience this sort of convenience. I felt pampered by the service and I was definitely appreciative that the organizers include this feature for their guests. It certainly proved handy as our tickets were taken at the gate, we were handed a program, and we found a spot on the grass suspiciously near the mini donut stand.

Evenings like Night at the Movies are always some of the more accessible ESO performances. Since moving to Edmonton two years ago, I've had the benefit of attending SSUTS three times as well as numerous ESO performances at the Winspear. I am by no means a studied music critic, but I do have an appreciation for classical music. That sounds like a cliché, and it is, but sometimes clichés are the best way to express something. I grew up listening to a smattering of the classics and opera, and aside from Vivaldi's Four Seasons and other such popular works, I cannot distinguish one composer from another. That's not to say that I can't, or that anyone can't... but classical music can be intimidating to those who have never experienced before. If you are listening to a piece that you have never heard before, not everyone will be able to enjoy the intricate layers of sound that a symphony produces. However, I like to compare going to the symphony to discovering to a new band that you've never heard before. You need to be drawn in by a piece that you like... and that will lead you to explore other works by that artist. Sometimes you will find that you only like a certain style, while in other cases you may find yourself exploring a direction that is entirely unexpected. Yesterday's performance is sort of like this, as are almost any SSUTS performances. The venue at Hawrelak Park is casual and festive... there was even a Mexican food vendor this year, in addition to the ever so popular mini-donuts stand, which if you are reading any of the other SSUTS blogs you'll notice that the one recurring theme in our posts is mini-donuts. Particularly for yesterday evenings performance, the selection of music is also recognizable. Nearly every genre of film was represented... western, drama, romance, fantasy, musical, science fiction, even action. The music was easy to put in context. You could tell that throughout the crowd people were having their "a-ha" (a-ha, as in not the band, but eureka, as in not the tv show) moments, when a piece was played that they recognized the score. I always find it interesting to listen to film scores independently from a film, because it can be so easy to overlook (or should I say, overhear) this integral part of a film. The music contributes so much to the feeling of a film, and it is amazing how different music can effect the overall impact of a movie.

Reminded of the trend a couple years back to mash up old movie trailers with different editing and music to create something with an entirely different feel, check out this trailer

Losing steam here... I'll wrap it up. Performances like Night at the Movies are a good introduction to the ESO. The atmosphere is fun and the music is accessible. This is not to say that other performances by the ESO do not share these same qualities. I think they do. The conductors, particularly Bill Eddins, do a fantastic job at engaging the crowd with the context of the various pieces that the symphony performs. Even I, the non-musician, am able to enjoy the wide variety of music that the symphony plays. I certainly hope that more people begin to take advantage of having a symphony within this city, attending other shows throughout the season. I should put in a plug for the Puls8 Club (yes the 'club' at the ESO), where symphonic music fans from 18 - the strapping and sturdy ages of the late 20s (up to 29) can get tickets to ESO performances for $15 (plus agency fees). $15 for an ESO performance is a bloody steal.

Anyhow, I must prep for the concert this evening. My parents are in town and my siblings and I are taking them to the show. It looks like the weather is going to be a repeat of yesterday and I need to locate some of my winter wear.