Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Symphony and a Movie, Together

Emma and I watched the first movie in the "The Lord of the Rings" series, The Fellowship of the Ring, last night while listening to the soundtrack being performed live by the Houston Symphony, a chorus, and soloists.

I noticed that I enjoyed the music much more, but I also often felt torn between watching the movie and listening to the music.  This has never happened to me while watching the video at home.  Sitting in Jones Hall last night, I tried to imagine what my brain was doing every time I felt that tug.  I didn't figure out anything.  I wish I could have my brain scanned while watching the movie on a big screen with the recorded soundtrack and again in a situation like last night's with the live music.  Without that kind of feedback, all I can say is that I did not like my attention being divided that way, even though I did much prefer the live music.  Maybe if the musicians had been hidden in an orchestra pit as they are in a ballet performance, I would not have had a problem.  I noticed that when the music grabbed my attention, I listened to it more intently and looked at the musicians.  I missed a lot of the movie this way.  Of course, I  have seen the movie before, so maybe I would not have done this if it were my first viewing.

The Houston Symphony has several of these live soundtrack-plus-a-movie performances on their schedule.  I suspect that it has figured out that the segment of the public that will buy a ticket to sit and listen to a traditional live symphony performance is dying off and that the symphony must provide the visual stimulation that young people are used to in order to attract them.  Several years ago I started noticing the trend of offering pop music on the schedule, complete with pop singers.  For example, Earth, Wind & Fire will perform with the Houston Symphony next spring.  (If you are not familiar with its music, just click on the link for a sample.)  I guess this is concert is to attract the 50 year-olds?  This movie thing just continues this dumbing-us-down development.  It's sad.

I had expected that a lot of "Lord of the Rings" fans would come dressed as a favorite character.  Emma spotted a couple, but that was all.  I didn't see them myself.  I did see several women in shorts.  Someday maybe I'll learn not to be disappointed by this.  Going to a symphony concert is so much more pleasurable to me when women wear sequined gowns and diamond earrings.


Kellie said...

"Going to a symphony concert is so much more pleasurable to me when women wear sequined gowns and diamond earrings."

I live in Alaska and we go to plays (like Le Miz, La Traviata, CATS, etc.) and see people dressed in everything from bunny boots (giant rubber boots that look like insulated whited out clown shoes) and Carhartts to dripping in diamonds and haute couture gowns. The bunny boots and Carhartts always have a story-- "We were stranded because of a wind storm, but landed with just enough time to get here!" and then you hear about what part of the state they are from. The diamonds and couture go to the VIP section and don't talk to anyone. It's the casual jeans and sweatshirts that sadden me. They know WHAT they are seeing, they may have the glitz at home, but mehhhh, they just didn't feel like dressing up.

Wendy Haught said...

Hi, Kellie!

I'm jealous! When you go to a play you get a lot more stories than the one on the stage!

I have never fit in with the VIP crowd and never will, but I appreciate the other everyday folks who see an evening out with the symphony, ballet, or theatre as a festive occasion. The sequined gowns and diamond (costume!) earrings I mentioned are easily found at the thrift stores and resale shops for less than $20. I agree with you about the ones who have the "glitz at home" and don't wear it. It makes me sad. They don't care enough to dress for themselves. Worse, they don't care enough to consider how their appearance affects others' enjoyment of a special evening.