NEC Philharmonia at Sanders Theater

Sanders Theater, Harvard Square

I won’t bore you with the 10000 cool things about Boston, but I grew as a person here.  As I’ve said so many times, classical music should be made abundant to the young audience at low cost to give them exposure to the incredible experience of live un-amplified  beauty in life.  I took my classical music appreciation class in Los Angeles, and listened to some mainstream pieces during my undergraduate time there.  Only when I moved to Boston (the first time) that I had a chance to sample all other composers / music, mostly for free.  As a poor graduate student, $15-$20 tickets were already getting up there, so operas / ballets were out of the question.  This reflects why my knowledge for classical music broadened greatly during my 7 years here, but I was still stuck at “Swan Lake” and no opera experience when I left the first time.

So, again as long winded as ever, one of the free evening concerts I attended way back then at the NEC was Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”.  I don’t know about others, but for me, a complete musically-uneducated person, that first exposure was like having chopsticks piercing my ears.  On the same evening must have been some Schoenberg’s piece as well.  So as you can imagine, I hadn’t ventured near Stravinsky since, i don’t know, probably 2003…

Which is why when I first saw this ad at the NEC program book, I stayed clear of it.  But then during the week, everyone I ran into talked about it (mainly the Shostakovich part).  A good friend from out of town is here and we (he) could only managed friday evening to meet up for dinner / chat (with more friends).  On late late thursday evening, i got a call from him for our usual super late night coffee in Harvard Square.  He had also heard about this concert and wanted to go! So, some very last minute arrangement with 2 more friends and we were all at the concert hall 5 min late.

NEC Phiharmonia plays Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe

Probably because we were late, the Shostakovich piece did very little for me. During intermission, we had time to catch up and talked about Stravinsky. Friend agreed it’s a tough piece for beginner, “Rite of Spring”. “At least it’s got some rhythm.” he said. So, I was geared up for some tough music coming up. First, Ms. Julia Glenn, the winner of the NEC/Harvard Concerto competition, arrived on stage in a red/pinkish dress (will talk about this later). Then she proceeded to play amazzzzingly beautiful music. THe orchestra was veryyy sharp. THere were tons of “duets” between the violin and the woodwinds/bassoons/brass. I was just blown away this was Stravinsky’s ! Here it is (an excerpt):

The whole piece was quite upbeat, even in the slow section. Just tons of looovely exchanges/conversations between the instruments. waw am still impressed. And i was left wishing my young nephew was here; I would take him to these performances for sure. The little guy is quite into classical music, but only via watching youtube. In LA, it would be crazy to bring him to a concert for various reasons. I seriously think I would have loved to learn playing an instrument if had I grown up with such richness that I’m exposed to here.

Ravel’s Daphne et Chloe, this is probably the 3rd time I’ve heard it live. However, I now have more patience and could really see how the music develops. I think i still need more time though, all of Ravel’s music in fact, something not quite yet clicking. But the highlight of the evening was truly Stravinsky.

So, back to the dress, I gave my email to someone who took a picture of her, hopefully the dress will appear here within next week if the person sent me an email. But why are we talking about her dress? When she first appeared, I didn’t think much of the dress, it nicely fit her tall and slim body. But immediately my friend said: “wow, in Germany you would not see a soloist in such a dress.” I was quite puzzled, but she started playing, so all conversation ceased. I was totally captured by her violin sound. Afterward, we two girls agreed it was a nice dress, but german friend was adamant that there’s a big cultural difference here. He was amazed that she played so well because he wouldn’t have expected so based on her dress. “WHAT??”–I said–“shouldn’t you be paying attention to her playing instead of worrying about the dress??”. “Yes, but she appeared first in the dress before I heard her play” was the explanation. According to him, the dress was too racy, calling out for too much attention, bad taste, something something. He even went as far as saying people might do that in Germany, but he wouldn’t call it appropriate! I’m baffled. I have known this guy for nearly 10 years, we have been on endless adventures (we talked about a winter hiking trip where I thought i was gonna die, about our multiple ballroom dance competitions as super beginners, about the Tosca ticket he gave me in Berlin without telling me it was 4-hr nonstop singing in a language i didn’t know, etc.). we’re the same age. is it really a cultural difference? Is it really true that in Germany soloists dress very conservatively on stage?

Anyhow, it’s not about the dress. It was a beautiful evening with Ms Julia Glenn and Stravinsky. I also get to meet another very cool person, although sadly she’s leaving for a post in Munich this summer. It was such a fun conversation though that I looked her up . Here she is on youtube demonstrating a dance! not a typical dance i warn you, but very cute i find.

and here’s the explanation that comes with it:

“Generating Entanglement in a Cold Atomic Ensemble via Atom-Light Interaction in an Optical Resonator”
MIT, 2010 (expected)

I present here a dance in two movements portraying (I) the laser cooling of an ensemble of rubidium atoms in a magneto-optical trap and (II) their entanglement via collective interaction with a light pulse in an optical resonator.
(I) “It’s a cold, cold night” for the rubidium atoms when they find themselves between two counter-propagating laser beams tuned slightly below the atomic resonance frequency (“red-detuned”). For an atom moving towards one of the laser beams, the Doppler effect shifts the frequency of that beam closer to resonance, with the result that each atom tends to absorb those photons that push against it to slow it down. In addition, a magnetic field ensures that the atoms tend to be pushed toward center stage. Thus, the atoms are cooled to less than a thousandth of a degree above absolute zero and trapped.
(II) The second movement is set in an optical resonator, the cold atoms having been positioned between two mirrors which pass a laser pulse back and forth many times to enhance the atom-light interaction. The opening line, “I know that you feel it, too,” is a reference to this pulse of light, felt equally by all the atoms. The collective interaction of the atoms with the light leaves the atomic ensemble in an entangled state, in which it is impossible to describe the state of a particular atom without reference to the states of the others. From now on, the fates of the atoms–like the arms of the dancers–are inextricably linked.

Dramatis Personae
Indistinguishable Atoms: X. Robert Bao, Brett Bethke, Jennifer Roberts, Yi (Joey) Zhou
Photons: Michael Baym, Monika Schleier-Smith

Performed at the Hertz Foundation Fellowship retreat
Harvard Forest museum, 15 November 2008″


About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

2 Responses to NEC Philharmonia at Sanders Theater

  1. Wha’? “Too revealing a dress?” Biiiiiiizaaaaarre.

    Ever since I heard Stravinsky’s Duo Concertante for violin (which was Leila Jozefowicz) + piano, I will take anything he wrote for the violin.

    You met for midnight coffee? How does that work? It doesn’t disturb your sleep? Maybe you order cafe au lait. And whatever cafe is open after midnight in Cambridge?

    • thả diều says:

      very nice piece! i should listen to more Stravinsky’s violin then. also more Mahler…
      Oh, the “Au Bon Pain” in Harvard Square opens until 2am! perfect place. actually i don’t drink coffee, friend occasionally does. we somehow always find time at midnight, mostly b/c he had just arrived in town and i was on my way out or something and midnight was the only time we managed the last couple of years… Au Bon Pain has good breads, bagels (toasted jalapenos, u should try that), bakery, soup, tea, coffee, smoothies. also, last night we were at John Harvard Brewer (or something John Harvard) until after midnight, so i know they open late. very cool place to hang out!
      Am still hoping that person will send email with the dress. then perhaps u can see vhy i was baffled.

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