EDITED VERSION: This is an edited version of the original review after I received a take-down notice from someone named Charlotte at the Miller Theatre threatening to have me thrown out of the Game Pieces concert if I did not comply with their requests. I am not allowed to have so much as a cell phone pic from the Miller, so this post and the upcoming review of Game Pieces the next night will be completely free of anything but text. After that we will hopefully resume normal service, assuming I don’t get any more take-down notices from anyone else…
I’m sorry I took so long to re-post it, but I got the take-down notice shortly before heading out to dinner and the concert on Friday, and then on Saturday I spent eleven hours at the Metropolitan Museum for the epic all-day marathon there. All free time since then has been used for eating, sleeping, and digesting new music experiences.
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, it was time for a massive dose of John Zorn’s classical music, at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Wednesday night was the “All-Star Orchestra” and Thursday was billed as a chamber music marathon. Between the two nights we heard no less than seventeen of Zorn’s classical pieces, including many I’d never heard before and a few premieres that had never been performed before. It was a pretty special occasion for us devoted Zorn fans. I have met three people so far this week that have traveled to New York from another country just to see these Zorn@60 concerts, so it is really wonderful of Mr. Zorn to give us so much bang for the buck with these incredible marathon concerts. Some of the New Yorkers I’ve talked to are a bit blasé about it because he plays here a lot, but for those of us who can only come to NYC for special occasions, this has been an unparalleled week of music so far.
There was so much music and so much variety that I can’t possibly write about all of it, so I’ll have to pick and choose some favorites. My absolutely far-and-away favorite from Wednesday night was Kol Nidre. It was the first piece of Zorn’s that I ever heard performed live, at the 92nd Street Y back in 2006 (IIRC). That performance was a ~15-piece string orchestra conducted by Zorn himself, and it was the most intense piece of music I’d ever seen. I was very much looking forward to seeing it again with a large string ensemble. This time he had a BIG orchestra… I couldn’t even begin to count the musicians on stage, but the program listed over 50 string players. The sound was powerful, and they used that power to the fullest with sudden and intense swells in volume. David Fulmer did an excellent job conducting. I had goosebumps up and down my arms a few times because it was so emotionally arresting. I feel like having a little lie-down just thinking about that piece.
(“Kol Nidre” video removed per request of the Miller Theatre)
On the next night, my favorite pieces were all pieces which were new to me. I’d only heard four or five of the thirteen chamber music pieces before, and some of the new ones were just brilliant. I asked my friends after the show which pieces they liked the best and there were three that really (more…)