I F*ing Loved the Symphony

I apologize for the muted expletive here, but I really had an amazing time.

And I’ll be honest–I didn’t expect to. I wouldn’t classify myself as a “fan” of classical music. My tunes taste generally drift between retro-pop, classic rock and showtunes. I’ve been to the opera a few times, and seen a few symphonic concerts in my day, but I’m certainly not a regular patron.

Working at the Arts Council, I try to divide my time roughly equally between the different artistic disciplines and organizations we support. If I was ever meeting with a donor, or a funder, or even just someone in the community who asked, “hey, how was a show at Hartford Stage this season?” or “what was your favorite exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art?” I’d like to be able to give a truly honest answer. And when it came to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, I dreaded the question: I had never seen them in concert before.

Sure, I’ve been out to their summer series at Talcott Mountain a few times. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s a great social experience, you can down a drink or two and hear some really wonderful music while enjoying the great outdoors. But when it comes to the Symphony’s Masterworks series, its “bread and butter,” I felt woefully uneducated. It’s like going to the Wadsworth but never making it past the gift shop—or going to Hartford Stage for A Christmas Carol and missing out on The Tempest. I wanted to take my Symphony experience to the next level.

Luckily, I wasn’t the only one feeling guilty—Liz, our Director of Community Investment, had never been to a Masterworks concert either. After missing the highly acclaimed “Beatboxing and Brahms” concert thanks to a winter wave of the flu, we both decided to try again and catch last night’s program.

And I’m so f*ing glad I did. 

Honestly, yes. I was concerned I’d be a little bored. I mean, listening to music is something I do in my car. But wow was I wrong. I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to see the Hartford Symphony Orchestra perform live. Their first piece, a short composition by Samuel Barber, absolutely hit the spot. It was joyful and upbeat, triumphant, fun—and almost drove me to tears. It’s pretty rare that I find myself moments away from weeping next to one of my co-workers.

HSO guest performer Teo Gheorghiu

The whole evening was really fantastic. We heard a wonderful Mozart Piano Concerto played by a guest pianist, the incredibly talented (and awfully easy-on-the-eyes)  Teo Gheorghiu. How does he play without sheet music? I’ll never know. But the evening’s true star was the final piece, Pathétique, Tchaikovsky’s final completed symphony in four movements. It was tremendous. And it was especially wonderful to see the look on Maestra Carolyn Kuan’s face as she conducted the HSO with pure joy—this is obviously a piece she particularly loves. Swirling her arms furiously in the air, she showed a passion for music that I’ve never seen anyone have before. I was completely blown away.

Plus, Liz and I had a fabulous time chatting with some Symphony folks and making new friends in the lobby. I’m really glad my initial trepidation didn’t get the best of me—I overcame my “fear” and had a phenomenal time at the Symphony. I’ll definitely be back.

Or, at the very least, you can catch me rocking along to Elton John tunes at Talcott Mountain this summer. I’ll be the one in the big yellow sunglasses enjoying a box of wine.

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