My first symphony

I had the chance of attending the TSO (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) Late night concert featuring Shostakovich:  Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905”. I  always wanted to experience a live symphony orchestra and have  always found it fascinating. When I expressed my desire to my friends I often find a (what’s so great about it) look. So when it came to talking about this kind of music I did not have many people to share.

However, I have always been tracking the events conducted at by the TSO. With Luminato 6, there were a lot of events conducted at special prices and some great events for free! . And the late night performance featuring Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905” was a part of it.

The performance took place at Roy Thompson Hall. When I booked my tickets there were two options to choose from,’select your seats’ or ‘Choose best available seat’ I usually won’t do that , but I chose ‘Choose best available seat’. And guess what I really got the best seat in the main floor right in the center of the hall close enough to the stage.

After a brief wait, the performance started right away without any talk. The initial movement was frankly quite below my expectations, then the second and the third movement was melancholic and gradually building up to the finale.  The Finale was something that I never expected it reached unimaginable highs. The victorious sounds thundered the hall and then it all faded slowly to the end. The music was able to kindle a variety of imagery. The music maintained a note-to-note tension that never dipped, preventing any sense of being draggy. Subtitled “The Year 1905,” the symphony depicts the massacre of protesters by the czarist forces, an event that contributed to the revolution that later swept Russia. This piece was so powerful and bombastic that it portrayed the horror that happened and  that which is was about to happen. However to be frank I was quite skeptical about the start, but cannot help stop expressing my appreciation for the finale.

So I came across this quote once. And now it all made sense.

 “Each human life is like a new symphony heard for the first time. It can’t be understood or fully appreciated until after the final cadence.”

Another interesting thing I saw was one person from the stage would sit there all along and would seldom walk up  to clash the cymbals. The clash of cymbals  reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. The clash of the cymbals was so loud then realized how it was used in the plot of the movie.  Only Hitchcock has a talent to make a beautiful orchestra feel haunted. According to me, it one of the best examples of the power of cinema. Below is the video of the climax sequence featuring the London Philharmonic Society at Albert Hall featuring in The Man who knew too much. The sequences are breathtaking!

(Notes: Info on Shostakovich:Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905”; Below is the YouTube video link of live performance of the same piece of music to get a feel of it.)


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