Friday, September 17, 2010

MSO: Providing an Education to a Musical Idiot?

With all the attention lately on the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and its new conductor Mei-Ann Chen, I thought the time was right for this post.

See, we bought a season ticket for MSO's Pops season that starts in October. I love music; even listen to classical on a rare occasion. And when I was in middle school I played the trombone in the band (I definitely don't like to admit that too often but I was actually pretty good; won a few awards at competitions). Of course now I can't even read music.

But since Mei-Ann Chen had her debut last weekend and the "Russian Masters" series kicks off Saturday at the Cannon Center, the timing is right for this Man Versus Art thought. I won't be attending the "Russian Masters," or at least not this Saturday's show. I mean, come on, it's the debut of Tiger Lane for University of Memphis fans. Where else would I be?

But my mind isn't always on football and tailgating, although those types of things certainly are much more front and center in my mind than the symphony. But that's kind of the point in this blog: A football-loving, "typical" guy immersing himself in the arts.

So I don't know what to expect when we attend our first Pops performance. Music? Sure, that's stating the obvious. The Pops season is not the pure classical stuff. I mean, the first night is called "Disco Days and Boogie Nights." Should be fun, or at least I hope.

There have been times in my life when I've listened to classical music. It's peaceful, relaxing and, honestly, it's amazing these guys wrote this music. I think all composers, for that matter, have an amazing ability.

Speaking of "these guys," I couldn't tell you the difference between Tchaikovsky, Chopin or Beethoven. Honestly, I just had to Google them to get the names correct.

Does that make me an uncultured slob? I don't think so but maybe you do. Well, it is what it is I guess. Not that I've ever been too concerned about impressing people with my knowledge of the classics, of course.

Honestly, where and when was I supposed to pick up that knowledge? American education, at least the one I got, didn't stress classical music. Or maybe it did and I just didn't pay attention.

I guess my lack of knowledge can be somewhat blamed on me. I took music appreciation freshman year at Memphis. I attended all of three classes. Managed to pass thanks to a lot of extra credit earned by attending lots of concerts and writing about them.

Anyway, I look forward to getting a bit of an education in person this season. Hopefully the hard-working musicians in Memphis can do a better job educating me than the educational system has done.

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