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Music Concert Experience

In: Film and Music

Submitted By tibet
Words 980
Pages 4
Music Class Paper
By Tenzin Wangyal
Faculty: Professor David Claman

On October 24th, 2013 at 7:30 pm, I went to a fundraising concert for the Garrison Institute at The Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street, New York City) called In the Spirit: Music From the World’s Great Traditions. While standing in the queue at the box office, I felt a little out of place and discouraged, since most of the people there were senior citizens who were very well and formally dressed; I was the only one wearing orange pants, a light blue shirt, a black jacket and white shoes. The old couple standing next to me was discussing music using dense music vocabulary. The good news is that I knew some of the vocabulary they were using, thanks to you, Professor; the bad news was that I didn’t know what to expect from this concert. Because it was a charity concert with world music, I bought a ticket and went in. The music hall was antique, with many pictures of classical singers on the wall. Inside the hall was large chandeliers. The seating arrangement was poor, with very little leg space. Everyone in the hall was so serious—I was telling them in my thoughts, “Smile, for God’s sake. It’s a concert, after all.” The presenter came out and talked a bit about Garrison Institute, before calling out the first performer: the Pomerium Vocal Ensemble. I was very excited since I liked [Sylvie] so much, which is a cappella. This a cappella ensemble consisted of fourteen people: Director Alexander Blanchly, sopranos Elizabeth Baber, Martha Cluver, Melissa Fogarty, and Dominique Surh, mezzo soprano Luthien Bracket, countertenor Robert Isaacs, tenors Thom Baker, Neil Farrell, and Michael Steinberger, baritones Jeffrey Johnson and Thomas McCargeras, and basses Kurt-Owen Richards and Peter Stewart. All the singers were dressed in black.
The first song they played was “O vos omnes.” I was impressed by their vocals, which were calm, very sad and featured the best harmonization I have ever heard. To my amazement, I didn’t felt the need for any musical instruments. The only problem was the lyrics, which I did not understand. It was pin drop–silent, and they were using silence very effectively as a part of their music. It was quite stressful for me since I didn’t know when to applaud, so I followed the saying “In Rome, do as what Romans do”—when the audience applauded, I followed them. I thought that this group would only sing one song, but they ended up singing four more: “In ieiunio et fletu,” “Ave Maria, gratia plena,” “Derelinquit impius,” and “Vide homo.” I had enough by then, as I struggled not to fall asleep. No wonder there were no young people there.
The second group of singers played the songs of Milarepa (a Tibetan yogi who became enlightened in one lifetime), which were composed by Philip Glass. The ensemble consisted of Gregory Purnhagen as baritone, Nelson Padgett on piano, and the Scorchio quartet with Amy Kimball on violin, Rachel Golub on violin, Martha Mooke on viola, and Leah Coloff on cello. I had high expectations for the song because it is about a Tibetan master, from whom I draw immense motivation, and the composer, Philip Glass, is well known for his background score for the movies Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal, and Golden Globe winner The Truman Show. The musicians were great, and I could understand the lyrics, to some extent—they basically talk about the ultimate truth of reality. After several minutes of this song, I became very bored. I started looking around and thinking about when they would finish. To my amazement, the crowd gave a standing ovation to the music. Then came Wu Man like a fresh breath of air. She is a Grammy-nominated artist who won Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year award. She is recognized as both a virtuoso and ambassador of the pipa (Chinese lute). She played a traditional piece called “White Snow in spring.” It was so amazing that my mouth opened and my eyes fixated on her. The piece has eight sections that all started in a similar way, but then grows like a wildfire. She then played “A Buddhist Chanting,” which was inspired by 12th century Buddhist music. She played her pipa alongside Philip Glass on the piano, who composed this rendition. She then played “Orion” with a string quartet, which was an all-girls ensemble. It looked beautiful, and the music was amazing. I gave them a standing ovation. We had a fifteen-minute intermission, and then came Foday Musa Suso from Africa. He is a griot, which are the oral historians and musicians of the Mandingo people from West Africa. He came on stage with a griot instrument that I have never seen called the kora (African harp). He played songs called “Kaabeelo,” “Blue Sky,” “Uno and Emily,” and lastly, “Kumba.” All of these songs took me to the African plains. They were very soulful and happy. I really wanted to understand these lyrics, as I am certain he might have told interesting stories. I felt honored to see a true griot, since their musical heritage can only be passed down within a griot family. Next was the father–son duo Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Murat Tekbilek from Turkey. Omar played a ney (a bamboo flute), while his son played percussion. He sang a Sufi song, which was very soothing. To conclude, the group Riyaaz Qawwali came out like icing on the cake and brought many good memories back from India. The ensemble of eight people included four vocalists, one on harmonium, one violin player, one table player, and one dholak player. They played the popular Sufi song “Mera Piya Ghar Aaya” by Bulleh Shah. Everybody clapped along with the rhythm—it was a good ending.

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