After "Knussen's Choice" last night, part of the New Creations Festival, I feel a little sad inside when I realize, besides next week's "Bold and Brassy," I'm pretty much done with Roy Thomson Hall besides serendipitous coincidences when I come back to visit. "The Composer is Dead," which Daniel Handler of Lemony Snicket fame both wrote and will narrate*, is playing Saturday, and I'd have gone to that except my parents will be visiting (that means I'm missing The Overcoat on Friday too, and the twats wouldn't let me exchange my ticket for one on a less crowded night - twats - anyways, does anybody want some $20 tickets to see that tomorrow?) and I'm not sure they'd be into that.
The only thing that comforts me about my intimacy with Roy Thomson Hall and its fucking perfect acoustics coming to an end is its relentless beigeness:
I don't understand why Canadians are so fond of making their cultural landmarks look like aeroports from the 1970's. I miss disco too, but this is missing the point completely.
So, "Knussen's Choice" - up and down. All the composers were in attendance, which was nice, because besides Kulesha they were all self-effacing Brits who gave a self-effacing explanation of where they'd been coming from with their compositions - enjoyable even when I didn't enjoy the compositions.
Gary Kulesha's Fireworks and Procession was the only thing I found flat-out beautiful. Simon Bainbridge's Scherzi were distinctly unjokey, even tediously so, so I think I'm missing the point of what an Englishman means when he calls a piece of music uno scherzo. Mark-Anthony Turnage's On Opened Ground for Viola and Orchestra didn't do much for me, although the lyrical viola phrasing he asked the audience to look out for at the beginning of the second movement was really worth looking out for - very enchanting.
Julian Anderson's Book of Hours was difficult. As it was putatively inspired by medieval tapestries, the sight of the harp, some electronic clavier-type thing and a couple of Powerbooks really got me excited - especially when Anderson came on stage and explained the sounds from the Powerbooks were meant to provide the aural equivalent of gold leaf on a medieval manuscript. What a great idea, and what an awful delivery of it. The Powerbooks provided lots of annoying sounds, including loud fake feedback and loud maddening buzzing, over an annoying orchestra and an intensely annoying clavier-type thing. All in all, I'm hard pressed to imagine how much farther it could have been removed from stark, unrealistic but symmetrically pleasing medieval tapestries.
Halfway through I got really sad and started having depressing thoughts about artists, musical or otherwise, who judge their success by their popular inaccessibility. How shit it was orchestral composers had the benefit of years of training in theory but had stopped trying to write transcendentally beautiful music, and were leaving that up to undertrained pop musicians with nasal voices, which was silly because earlier that same evening Gary Kulesha's peice had been transcendentally beautiful. But I got an intense jones on to listen to some Arcade Fire nonetheless.
*As an aside - I love the Series of Unfortunate Events series. Not enough to read more than the first one, obviously, I'm a busy woman and all that, but I'll still venture to say they kick Harry Potter's ass.