Monday, March 1, 2010

Symphonies and Hockey

The rest of Victoria held its breath in suspense when the Canadian and American hockey teams were locked in an overtime struggle. I, with a fairly large crowd of music lovers, was listening to Joseph Boulogne's Second Symphony at the University of Victoria Centre. It wasn't a full house as I was expecting. It was sometime during the Bach Piano Concerto that some of those conspicuously empty seats became occupied, and since the faces were glowing in smug satisfaction I rightly surmised that Canada had won. Perhaps it was the distraction of the hockey game that caused the hiccup in the performance of the Bach piece. Right in the middle of a drivingly rhythmic performance, pianist Jamie Syer suddenly stopped. The orchestra stopped. Conductor Giuseppe Pietraroia turned inquiringly to the pianist for a brief consultation, and then the music resumed. I think there might have been a missing da capo or something. I'll have to ask principal cellist Lawrence Skaggs about it the next time I see him.
After the intermission came Beethoven's Eighth. In spite of the conductor's enthusiasm I think Ludwig had an off day when he composed this one. Still, Beethoven is Beethoven and it lacked nothing in his characteristic sonorities, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra playing them beautifully. My seat in the balcony's back row was hardly the most favourable spot, but I was pleasantly surprised at the fine acoustics of the theatre. I'm looking forward to the Haydn/Vivaldi concert here in four weeks.
An unexpected bonus to the concert was an art exhibit in the adjacent gallery which was featuring traditional textile work from central Asia. Carpets, dresses, in amazing patterns and brilliant colours. The impulse to create beauty is universal.
Although I'm not a big sports fan, I was thrilled to learn of the Canadian win, and a little sorry I missed it. As it turns out, Canadian athletes set a record in the number of gold medals won at any winter Olympics, an achievement for which they are rightly proud. Maybe we are finally getting over our inferiority complex.

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