Monday, December 14, 2009

Cinderella, Civic Theatre - 12/12/09

I love musical theater but wasn’t thrilled about seeing this one as I assumed it was more for children than adults. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the musical comedy more than I expected, the comedy part being the major surprise. The program listed it as a Rodgers and Hammerstein work but I had no recollection of it being a stage musical or movie. The opening number “The Sweetest Sounds” also mystified me as I remembered it being in a musical by Richard Rodgers (No Strings) that was his first after the death of Oscar Hammerstein. Doing a little research later that night, I discovered that most of the music was from a Rodgers and Hammerstein made-for-tv production from 1957. There was a later TV production in 1965 and another in 1997, in which “The Sweetest Sounds” was added.

Cinderella and the Prince did a fine job (Cinderella has a lovely voice) but most of the entertainment was provided by the wicked stepsisters and stepmother. They were more mean and slapstick than wicked and had the funniest parts in the production, both verbally and physically. Staging was creative and well-done. The singing was better than the dancing but all-in-all it was a lively, entertaining show, and not for children only.

Grand Rapids Symphony 11/22/09

An evening at the Grand Rapids Symphony is an enjoyable night but always has its highs and lows. Here are a few:

Mozart’s Symphony No. 31. His music is mathematically precise and beautiful. That’s the best way I can explain it.

Conductor, David Lockington. I love to watch his direction - it seems somewhat loose and he leads the orchestra half-a-beat ahead, but you know he has total control. He physically draws out what he wants from the players and afterwards makes a point of acknowledging special contributions of specific musicians. He did not speak last night but on other occasions he has offered some background information regarding the composition. His comments are always interesting and laced with humor.

Cellist Daniel Muller-Schott. He was amazing as he performed Dvorak’s Concerto in B minor. He was not only one with his cello but was also one with the composition and the orchestra. He came out of his musical trance between movements and but was immediately back when the first note of the next movement played. The duet he played with the violinist in the third movement was incredible and I think their proximity to each other added to the intensity.

Mahler’s Adagio from his unfinished 10th symphony. There was nothing wrong with the performance but the piece itself should be called "Descent Into Madness". It is a masterful composition and would be a great film score for a film noir. But it was difficult to listen to and the picture I kept seeing was someone being driven into insanity.

A woman a few seats down who was knitting throughout the entire evening. Last time, there was a woman two seats away eating Ritz crackers. Concert etiquette, anyone?

Farmers' Market October 2009

Farmers’ Market - a beautiful display of robust, colorful produce; local farmers all hawking their wares. The abundance is over-whelming and the colors are a sensory overload. None of the goods are produced more than an hour’s drive away so everyone here is a neighbor. Some produce is organic, some is not, but it’s all fresh and that’s evident in the taste. Besides the fruits and vegetables, there are flowering plants, fresh-cut flowers, honey, meat, and cheese. I can’t buy from every vendor but I want to - just to reward them for being here and for providing fresh food for our community. The market is crowded with shoppers and everyone looks happy. I buy more than we can eat in a week; I’ll probably do that again next week. And I know I’m not the only one.