It’s nearly Sunday evening as I post this, and I feel like I’m still recovering from Friday and Saturday. It’s a good problem to have.
As followers to my blog know, I finished out Alan Moore’s Jerusalem around lunchtime Friday, and I think I’m still experiencing book hangover. Some books just have that effect. If you’re so inclined, I wrote an incredibly long-winded blog about it, but suffice to say, it’s still kicking my butt. Probably will for a time to come.
Friday evening consisted of my first visit to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in a few months, and I can’t express how wonderful it was to return. The program of the evening was one of both new and familiar works for me, and it was all around an incredible experience.
The first work performed was Rapture, by Christopher Rouse. This work was composed in 2000. While I’m new to Rouse’s work, my understanding is that his music is highly approachable to new listeners. If Rapture is any indication of this, I’ll definitely seek more of his work. As the word suggests, the piece is “limitless bliss.” There is a sense of birdsong and a journey through every-expanding levels of joy. It’s a spiritual experience, not defined by any religious dogma according to the composer.
The second work is one that I’ve only heard a couple of times, and enjoyed immensely. Max Bruch’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in G minor, Op. 26, is a Romantic era showpiece designed to please audiences and other musicians alike with its highlight of the solo violin. The violin in question is expected to both sing in slow, heartfelt melodies and to dazzle in speed and dexterity. As one would expect, it requires a talented musician to pull that off, and the DSO is known for showcasing some of the best talent the world has to offer.
The evening’s soloist is 32 year old Augustin Hadelich. Hadelich is a name I’ve heard before, and let me say up front that his CD recordings do not do justice to the wonder of a live performance. This young man has endured and overcome some hardship in his life, and it’s obvious by the expression on his face alone when he plays that music is the power that healed him and pushed him through the hard times. More than that, he makes you feel it too. When the piece was over, Hadelich received a standing ovation and treated us to an encore: Niccolò Paganini’s Caprice No. 21. Friends, if you’ve not experienced the work of Paganini, then you’ve not experienced the violin. Paganini is to violin what Franz Liszt is to piano, or what Jimi Hendrix is to electric guitar. This was the first time I’ve heard a Paganini performed lived. It’s not something I’ll soon forget.
After the intermission, the evening ended with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. Usually symphonies are written as absolute music, designed to be heard in a pure state, with no need of backstories. Tchaikovsky’s works have backstories, and in this case the drama at the center of the piece is his life, his eternal antagonist being the same one that dogged Beethoven: Fate. It’s almost a perfect contrast to Rouse’s Rapture, and as someone who fights with depression, it’s a piece that speaks to me all too well and tells of the power of music to keep one going against all odds. The ending is one of the most powerful endings in the history of the symphony. The DSO’s rendition was nothing short of exemplary.
Saturday was the standard 3rd Saturday meetup. There were friends, food, and conversation to be had, comics and toys to be bought, and fandom battles to be waged. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday, but when even one of the usual antagonists shows, it’s a drain on energy and sanity. If the pattern holds, I’m sure that any progress I seemed to make this month will be completely dismissed by now and summarily forgotten by next month. Why I even bother to engage is a mystery to me.
One highlight worth mentioning to all of the book lovers and art lovers out there… One of my friends decided to be proactive and get all of his holiday shopping out of the way early (don’t you just hate people like that?). My present this year was art. I don’t have high-resolution files for these yet, but I found these images at the artist’s website.
The artist is Brad W. Foster. These pieces are, to my mind, extraordinary for a number of reasons. The first, obviously, is the work itself. It’s gorgeously detailed. The second is a personal story that the artist couldn’t possibly know that ties into this RPG I’ve been running for most of my life.
The top piece is The Athenaeum. As my friend described it to me, based on what the artist told him, it’s a library that extends into infinity in every direction (including up), keeping a copy of every work ever written. My idea of heaven. The second work is the companion piece, The Librarian. Suffice it to say, this library and its librarian exist in my game for the higher level NPCs to interact with if need be, providing a never-ending source of storytelling potential. I was immediately stunned upon opening these up. Both pieces now proudly hang in my home library, facing one another. If you decide you’d like a copy of these pieces, you can find them at the links above.
Today has simply been about relaxing and unplugging, made easier by the fact that when the Cowboys play, the neighborhood noise comes to a halt. Thank the Force! I hope everyone else has had a great weekend.