Thursday, January 05, 2006

Practice, Practice, Practice

We had the chance to go up to New York City for a little touristing during the holidays. New York is such is a Christmas town. While walking from our hotel to Rockefeller Center, we crossed Seventh Avenue at 57th Street and I made my obligatory “practice, practice, practice” joke in front of Carnegie Hall to my saxophone-playing son.

One of his class assignments for band is to go to two “real” concerts and write reports. I posted about the Maynard Ferguson show awhile back, so we still had one more to go. We checked the box office at Carnegie Hall figuring that might be a cool place to fill that obligation. As luck would have it, there was a performance by the New York Strings Orchestra the next night. We got three aisle seats in the upper balcony. After two stops for oxygen and some altitude adjustment we discovered that what they called “obstructed view” were really pretty good seats in the first three rows of the balcony.

The New York Strings Orchestra is an ad hoc ensemble formed every year in December of talented young music students from all over the country. They rehearse over the winter holidays and do two full performances at Carnegie Hall to cap off the seminars. It sounds like a really cool gig. The house was packed, so they were drawing more than family and friends to the show. Up in the bleachers where we were, the demographics skewed pretty young and the applause was genuinely enthusiastic.

Even better, the featured soloist was Hillary Hahn whom I had heard of from her many appearances in the DC/Baltimore area. Her violin playing was stunning and so was she. Her publicity photos do not do her figure justice, at least that’s my impression from the rather down-blouse friendly view I had in the nosebleed seats.

As a strange coincidence, I had stumbled over to Deni Bonet’s website to steal some coding for the music link I used in my last post, figuring she knew how to do it right. Deni is a very hip professional musician and a wickedly funny blogger. On her site she has a short film called HOW DO YOU GET TO CARNEGIE HALL? In it, she videocams a first person trip on the subway to Carnegie Hall. Near the end she shows her ticket stub and damn if it isn’t the same show I was at. And judging by the video shot from her seat, we weren’t too many rows apart. It is a very small world.

At least I wasn’t the only one smuggling A/V equipment into Carnegie Hall. The photos were taken with my new Christmas present, a 75-300 mm zoom lens for my Canon Digital Kiss/Rebel. No flash was used, so they are just a little fuzzy, but still pretty impressive for as far away as I was sitting. Since the camera and lens combo is about as big as an elephant seal’s nose, I must have drawn a few stares as I played with it discretely between movements. A lot of pictures were fuzzy beyond recognition, but a few are keepers. You can see more pictures from our New York trip in my newest Flickr set.

And to get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
Your picture of the Christmas trip were very nice. I think you will like your new lens.

yellojkt said...

Thanks, Dad.

Anonymous said...

This is a great Christmas gift for yourself and your family. It is inspirational for young musicians to observe professionals and there is no substitute for live performance.

Imagine life without music--impossible! So, say I, the more music you can get into your life, the better.

Edgar said...

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Unknown said...

I would like to thank you for sharing your experience with us and the time it took to post!! Two Thumbs up!
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