Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Maazel. Verdi Requiem. 3.29.0628 January 2013, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Went to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra tonight. Sometimes I wish I could turn off work mode. Anyway, I hope this doesn’t sound like I didn’t enjoy the concert, because I actually did, I really enjoyed it. So it was an interesting night for a various reasons…

– It’s the first classical concert I’ve seen in Hong Kong for a very, very long time. And first concert in HK I’ve seen since I’ve worked in the arts and thus been exposed to classical music properly. The previous HK concert I went to (probably 8 years ago) was the HK Philharmonic Orchestra playing Studio Ghibli music, so that couldn’t have possibly gone wrong haha. So I was really looking forward to it and probably more observant than I usually would be…

– But saying that, it’s actually a foreign orchestra, so I still haven’t experienced a HK orchestra, heh.

– Riccardo Muti was replaced quite last minute by Lorin Maazel due to health reasons. I was actually a bit shocked when I first heard of this change through the grapevine (though no complaints from me! :D) only because I then suddenly thought.. wow my family bought these tickets through Urbtix… and they didn’t ask us for our contact details (ticketing in HK needs to be looked at urgently). How are they then going to tell me about this change? In London, this would’ve generated soooo many complaints. So anyway, a bit more relieved when I received an email from the Arts Festival a couple days ago announcing this change (but then again, not everyone is on their listserve!) So tonight, to address this change, an usher nonchalantly mentioned the conductor change as we walked up the stairs after she checked our tickets… in a tone that sounded like she half expected us to turn around and leave.

– And because of the conductor change, there was a repertoire change (which I actually preferred).

– Which then had a chain effect on the size of orchestra vs the pieces… too small of an orchestra to be playing Mozart’s Jupiter. Yet they almost doubled the orchestra to play Brahms’ Symphony No 2. Consequently the Brahms piece sounded much fuller and more impressive, even though I personally expected to be more blown away by Mozart. So actually in a way this was a nice treat because the concert got progressively stronger and the players, progressively more expressive.

– Sadly, the venue wasn’t great. The orchestra played on a raised flat stage and so we couldn’t see the woodwinds or brass section 😦

Saying all this, I was still swept away by the music, particularly the Brahms piece and the encores. And got to see Lorin Maazel conduct! Why is that orchestras always play the encores with so much more passion and energy? Hm!

Am now keen to hear our own orchestras play. But uh I actually just read some marketing copy that has discouraged me from seeing what would be a good repertoire (another thing that needs to be looked at). Someone turn off my work brain please…


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