Strangest Concert I Never Saw

12 04 2008

Last Thursday, a friend of mine offered me free tickets to watch the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra perform with outgoing musical director Eugene Castillo for the last time. The Monday before, some of my students had expressed the desire to see a real orchestra live, so I, thinking this would be a good opportunity to allow them just that, cheerfully agreed and asked if I could bring 6 students along. I was told yes, but that there would be an element of risk (oh,if only I knew!) involved in getting them.

So yesterday, 5 students (one couldn’t make it) and I made our way to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (which was a small adventure in itself, and showed that a majority of our students have lead sheltered lives), assuming that we were in for a memorable experience.

Oh, it was memorable alright.

Dave Griffeths (the friend I spoke of earlier) gave me a ticket and proceeded to brief me on how to get tickets for everyone else. Let’s just say it involved standing around the lobby, a rather lost and waif-like expression on my face, lost in a crowd of well-dressed old people (I’m sorry, but there were a lot of old people) and a few well-dressed, somewhat snooty-looking folk of a younger persuasion (If it weren’t for the old people, it was like a prom). Needless to say, some of the students felt so out of place, they kept within an arms-length distance of me at all times (allusions to a mother hen with her chicks were rather apt, although mildly embarrassing); one felt it so badly, he couldn’t muster the courage to go to the bar and buy a Coke.

I managed to get my hands on another ticket (although getting it had nothing to do with my waif-like antics), but no more. With the show a mere minute away from starting, I sent two of the students who had never seen an orchestra before (other than our own) into the theatre while three of us were left to nurse overpriced Coke Zeroes in the lobby. At intermission, still without having procured extra tickets, the first two came down to the lobby and gave their tickets to another two so that they could have their turn watching. That meant two of us never got into the hall and had to listen to the performance via the house speakers.

Oh yeah. It was hilarious.

Mind you, I’m not bitter about the experience – a tad disappointed, maybe, but not bitter. In fact, I feel as if the whole experience was made worthwhile simply because of what my students had to say after the affair; Frankly, I was expecting them to gush over the sights and the sounds of a full orchestra going full-blast in a nice concert hall. Instead, I got this:

“Someone was snoring in our row.”

“Their pizzicatos weren’t together.”

“Their bowings weren’t together either.”

“They seemed to be ignoring the conductor. It’s like they hate each other.”

“They give you the distinct feeling that they would rather be somewhere else.”

“The timpanist kept moving around to talk with the other percussionists. It’s like `Hello! We can see you!'”

“You really notice the outcasts in the orchestra; one of the younger violinists was trying to sneak away.”

…among other things. One fellow (the one who was too-intimidated by the crowd to buy a Coke) did gush, but it was mostly about how the cymbal-player would look bored until it was his time to play, and then immediately after would sit back down as if nothing had happened.

I must say these comments were unexpected – I never thought that The Orchestra’s ten-month rehearsal had trained them well enough to spot the wrinkles in a professional orchestra(!) – but I must also admit to being absolutely thrilled that they were paying attention, and brought their wits to bear on what was happening, unlike the patron who snored (shame on you, sir!).

Oddly enough, their comments echo the ones I made about the PPO less than a year ago…which you can read about here. If my own students noticed the same thing, then the PPO really needs help…





5 responses

12 04 2008
the one who was afraid to buy coke

yung bayad nyo sa taxi! 😀

12 04 2008

i know the one who was afraid to buy coke! :)) i heard it was fun! nice job!

12 04 2008

sayang i didnt get to see and criticize ppo. nxt season na lng.

13 04 2008
fahad fan

“…allusions to a mother hen with her chicks were rather apt, although mildly embarrassing.”

^best line ever. XDDD

We have the best observations ever. Hehe.

9 05 2008
another student who pays attention

Comments about PPO:
1.The only section I liked in the orchestra was the contrabass.
2. The concert master was the only one who was good among the violins.
3. The male soloist sounded out of tune.
4. Among the percussions, the triangle was the only interesting instrument.
5. Every one of them looked bored, except the lady at the back of the contrabass section.
6. Their Tschaikowsky sounded “Pink” (quoting Nodame) but a garrishly floral Masumi-like pink.
7. They really weren’t looking at the conductor.
8. The winds weren’t together. There was this one guy who blasted his French horn (if I remember correctly) and made an obviously wrong note. All throughout the performance, he was tuning. He never played again.
9. The violins liked tapping their feet. And rinig na rinig kaya yun! I don’t know if it’s supposed to complement their music or whatever.
10. The only part I liked about the first performance was the last part.
11. The choir sounded horrible.

*We really love ‘murdering’ them, don’t we? Bwahahahaha! Joke! But, really, we wouldn’t murder them if they weren’t worth murdering. I was the only one among our group who wasn’t impressed by the PPO. But I was glad to realize that I still loved music enough to pay attention to the performance.

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