Sunday, March 08, 2009

You Tube Symphony

You Tube has put together a symphony orchestra which will perform next month in Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. Musicians from all over the world have submitted video auditions and the winners have been selected. The program will include a work by Chinese composer Tan Dun.

After decades in the food business, rearing and supporting a family, I feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up in a whole new world of music. Here are two videos that make me want to spend the day cruising the rest of the winners of the You Tube competition. The first is the winner selected to be the English horn soloist in the You Tube Symphony. The second is a Chinese orchestra performing Tan Dun's version of Eroica.

Dvorak 9, english horn solo, Robert Silla

YouTube Symphony - 香港中樂團 Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra - Eroica

If time permits, go drilling into the thumbnails for a musical adventure.

I learned to use chopsticks in Korea and realized how different the Asian aesthetic sensibility is from the West. At table we have an array of tools to help us eat... knives, spoons and forks for different applications -- reminding me of a surgical kit. Chopsticks, by contrast, are no more than a delicate extension of two fingers (imagine index finger and thumb) used to deliver bite-sized morsels from plate to mouth. Okay, noodles have to get going first and to eat them you have to slurp and suck your way through them, biting them off if you get too many in your mouth. But hey, that's why we have teeth and lips. All in all I appreciate the Asian table aesthetic as much as our own.

Observe in this next video the contrast between the English horn above and a Chinese analogue. Both are double-reeds at the end of a conical bore, but in the same way that we need a surgical kit to eat, we also equip musical instruments with an array of extra drilled holes our fingers cannot possible reach or cover. The Western instrument, with its many keys, levers and whisper holes, is far more mechanical by comparison. We even managed to modify David's harp with one of the most elaborate mechanical assemblies ever devised, shrinking and concealing it's linkages from pedals to strings to fit discretely in the frame of the modern harp, to enable it to produce chromatic notes on strings which otherwise would be as limited in pitch as bagpipe drones.

Marsiling Chinese Orchestra ~ 黄土情 Sentiments of the Yellow Land

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