15 April 2014

STL adventures: Making beautiful music together

I’ve already confessed this secret here before, but I’ll admit it again: when people ask where Mr. P and I met, we usually say something about going to grad school together. But that’s not the whole truth. The rest of the story? We met on facebook.... back in the day when you had to be enrolled at a university, and you only interacted with other students at your school, and you had to walk uphill in the snow both ways to log on. We met by striking up a conversation in a Ben Folds discussion group.

I used to be kinda embarrassed about that. But as the years go by, I love that origin story more and more.

So since Mr. P gave me tickets to see Ben Folds with the STL Symphony Orchestra for Christmas, well.... I’ve been excited.

At a point in my work life where I feel too busy and overwhelmed to even do laundry, an evening with my favorite guy and favorite musician (that’s Mr. P and Ben Folds, respectively) was the ultimate luxury. So we made a night of it, starting with dressing the part:

Sparkly earrings and heels because it’s a Saturday evening at the symphony, black skinnies and sunglasses because it’s a rock concert, and stripes because it’s me.

For dinner, we tried a new fancy restaurant. You can’t see it, but I’m pretty sure Mr. P’s steak was approximately the size of my face.

It’s a new restaurant in the same building where I had brunch on my thirtieth birthday. What I didn’t show you then is the spectacular décor in the ladies room:

Ginormous chandelier #1.

Then it was off to the symphony hall!

Ginormous chandelier #2.

We arrived with plenty of time to wander around before taking our seats, which is my preferred pre-show activity. It gives me a chance to check out what everyone else is wearing (pro tip: DON’T wear artists’ merchandise to their shows, lame-o) and see what’s happening at the bar.

As for the show itself – it lived up to the hype (and the rather grand promises made by Ben himself). Every single musician on that stage worked precisely together and clearly had so much fun doing it. Some of the arrangements were the same as those I’d heard at the Nashville show, and, well... STL just did it better. It was a tight, impressive performance, especially considering Ben had only rehearsed with the orchestra just a few hours before the performance.

The play-by-play of the show is here. I’m fairly sure the author went to the Sunday performance, not the Saturday night one that we attended, but the sentiments within are the same. It’s well worth a read as a description of what rock music can be.

[I didn’t take photos during the show because 1) I was too busy fangirling and 2) concert photos never turn out anyway and 3) the authority figures told me not to and I live in fear of The Man. So this will do.]

But while that synopsis of the show does a great job praising the individual and collective talent of the musicians onstage, it’s this line that really got me: “Singing anything whatsoever gives us all the feels, but harmonizing with 3,000 other people who knew exactly when to make their "Aaaahhhhhs" rise was simply electric.”

That’s it exactly. I chose not to make a career in music, but the joy of experiencing and creating music with a room full of other musicians is no less intoxicating. Maybe I don’t formally perform anymore, but I still squealed when everyone in the audience knew to clap on the eighth beat of “Annie Waits”. I knew none of those people, and yet we were in synch.

Ben Folds has many talents, and he’s generous to share them. But I think bringing musicians together to perform and learn from one another is one of the things he does best.

And sometimes he brings people close enough together to get married. That’s talent.


Becca said...

This experience sounds like musical tai chi. I would have loved it. Ben is the best!

Tina said...

Awwwww... So glad you recorded Your Story.