I’m ashamed to admit it, but while we’ve lived in the Nashville area for almost ten years now, we’ve never once been to a performance at the legendary Ryman Auditorium - “The Mother Church” of country music, the original home of “The Grand Ol’ Opry,” a certified National Landmark. Well, Liz managed to score tickets to see Lucinda Williams on March 30. We are huge Lucinda Williams fans and we’re excited to pick up her new album, West, which comes out on Tuesday. We’ve passed up numerous opportunities to see her live, but we’re finally going to hear her in the intimate and historical environs of the Ryman. Literally a former church, the Ryman holds barely over 2,000 people and, needless to say, this concert will be special. We are definitely looking forward to this.
Nashville also has a brand-spanking-new symphony hall, The Schermerhorn Center, which is, from first-hand accounts, an acoustical marvel on the level of the finest European concert halls. Built largely with private funds (there are no public funds for the arts in Tennessee!), seating capacity was sacrificed for the benefit of the best possible sound quality and I’ve been anxious to check it out. Unfortunately, the programming for the opening season is, shall we say, very conservative. With the death of Kenneth Schermerhorn in 2005, the Nashville Symphony has lacked a full-time conductor and musical director, so the opening season features a series of guest-conductors leading blandly familiar repertoire. However, to give credit to where credit is due, every concert of this season will feature a (short) composition by a living composer, a welcome (if perfunctory) gesture. And Alasdair Neal will be conducting Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra on May 17-19, and we’ll be there on Friday the 18th, in fabulous seats : Front row center of the balcony. The Nashville Symphony Orchestra is a capable group of musicians – recent performances of Elliott Carter’s Piano Concerto and Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony with pianist Mark Wait were fresh and invigorating. One quibble: I wish that Bartok’s modern masterpiece was not paired with Joseph Haydn's Symphony No.103 ("Drum Roll"). Why not Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste, to give a fuller picture of Bartok’s soundworld and give the audience a little challenge? Well, I know why not. (*Sigh*). In any event, I will take my modernism where I can find it and will very much enjoy hearing it in a superb acoustical environment.
We also have plane tickets for a trip to New York City in April. It has been several years since we were last in “The City” and we are totally excited to return. I am really looking forward to going to the recently enlarged Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), hearing some music, and hopefully seeing some old friends.
Lots of stuff to look forward to in the coming months!