No sooner did I catch up on classical music blogging the other day, when I saw another concert: the Riverside Symphony at Alice Tully Hall. This was my first time there since the renovation and other than the expanded lobby it seemed much the same. This strings/percussion ensemble played Sibelius, Hartke (who I'd never heard of but sounded like Bartok), a Debussy harp piece, and the work I came for - Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. We studied it in Contemporary Music class in college and I have a recording but never heard it live.
The group and solo harpist were playing the lovely, ethereal Debussy when they were rudely interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone directly in back of me in the balcony. It rang and rang until the lady finally found it (mumbling "sorry"), and then it rang louder through her open purse, and then she ANSWERED it and had a conversation in a foreign language (I'm guessing Tagalog). Unbelievable. Everyone around me looked at each other in horror, with rolled eyes. The man next to me later said he was tempted to rip the phone from her hands and smash it to the ground. During intermission, an usher came over twice, telling the woman people had complained and reminding her to silence the phone for the rest of the concert. She did so - and instead had a conversation (thankfully, very brief, but still...) with her neighbor during the next piece. The Bartok sounded good, but some parts (including the ending) felt too slow.
In the classical music vein, I saw two dance concerts recently. The Balletto Teatro di Torino (at the Joyce) was interesting, though a little weird. Deborah Colker (at City Center) was exciting to watch as the dancers moved around walls, tables, and vases. The guys next to me asked if I went to many dance concerts since I looked familiar (no, not really), and it turned out they had seen "Wordplay."
Colker is working with Cirque du Soleil on their show "Ovo" and I saw a different Cirque production "Wintuk" last week at MSG's WaMu theater (formerly the Felt Forum). The show seemed geared for kids with a thin, hokey story about a town with no snow (guess what happens at the end!), but one can ignore that and revel in the dazzling acrobatics: the tightrope walker who also juggled and put on pants while suspended, a guy who balanced atop rolling balls and spools, skateboarders, a contortionist who also hula hooped, people swinging from ropes, people who bounced on long sticks as if they were trampolines, people who bounced on a strip of stage floor that actually was a trampoline... I'm probably forgetting more highlights. With all the small children I could have sat behind, I ended up with a tall person blocking the view. But then the usher moved the elderly couple next to me to handicapped seats and I moved over for a better sightline.