Symphonic Rhizome

The ESO is moving music into the 21st century!
Okay, that sounds a bit like a blurb from a bad television ad...

How about "the interactive social medium now permeates all aspects of public life; even the doors of the hallowed concert halls have been thrown open by the voice of the people!"
Perhaps that's a bit academic/Marxist.

"I 'blog, you 'blog, and we re-make the world as we 'blog it."
Pretentious, yes, but it's true. There is no revolution that has ever occurred without a voice: once upon a time, that voice could be a single person, a Moses or a Joan of Arc; then it became the voice of a ruling class, or a political party; today the voice of change is a collective.
We are voice.
"So say we all," if you will.

Last night I joined a small contingent of 'bloggers and "twitterers" ("twits"?) and participated in a live performance at the Winspear. I use the word "participate" with some trepidation: we're not getting up on the stage and performing any music. And yet the fundamental reality of these various "social media" is that we are all participating.

Don't think of the "'blog-o-sphere" or the "twit-scape" as a geographical map with coloured pushpins; this is a multi-dimensional, radically interactive network. Everyone who reads has become a part of a web that spreads without borders or boundaries; those who comment are participating in yet another dimension of the web. Think about rhizome theory.
We are not a part of the music, but the music becomes a part of us; if nobody were attending performances the ESO would discover very quickly that the stage isn't all that matters. Bill Eddins (ESO music director and conductor at last night's performance) gets this--he's lively, funny, and friendly. He's also serious about music. The auditorium might have a lot of gray hair in it, but everyone seemed to appreciate Eddins' candor. This is participation. This is community. This is Symphony.

Anyone can go home and listen to a recording. (Don't misunderstand--I love recorded music. I love recording music.) What's different about the Symphony? Participation. We are there, with the performer. There is a presence missing from the recording--however we might try to define that presence, it is real. The "social media" events that Philip Paschke ("New Media Specialist" for the ESO) organizes are an augmentation of that presence. Spectating becomes participation becomes mutualism.
Could we have this sense of "Rhizome Symphony" without the concert hall? How about a Youtube Symphony Orchestra"?
Think about it. Let me know if you feel like you're participating.

Last night's program was great. Plenty of "springtime" moods, with a smattering of top-class debut performances and some fun with film scores. The harp was fantastic, though I liked the Baker piece more than the Celtic song. Both the full-size and the smaller (carbon fiber!) folk harp sounded fantastic; full credit to everyone involved in the design and construction of the Winspear. This was my first time in the upper circle, and I've got to say that it sounds almost as good up there as at the orchestra level.

There's been some controversy about the idea of the techno-mages invading the concert hall; I'm quite sure that my scribbling with pen-and-paper didn't annoy anyone (except perhaps my guest, who insisted that any music worth listening to is worth listening to with full attention.) If you see someone txting on a mobile phone during your favourite movement, you're still welcome to smack them upside the head, as far as I'm concerned. I think, however, that polite tweeting during breaks between pieces is perfectly acceptable. "MasterMaq" has got a bit of notoriety for his role in this little revolution, which is to be expected; I'm sure that in a few years we'll be able to laugh about the whole thing.

Public expression has changed. For better or worse, the mobile phone has become the implement of written expression; the internet our postal system, our Irish pub, our Agora. I'm not sure about Twitter yet, (to quote Joss Whedon: "it sounds kind of dirty...") but then, I've always been a bit anachronistic.
(As I type this, someone is speaking loudly into a mobile phone in the public library. Luckily, I left my sword in the trunk of the car after sparring practice last Tuesday...)

1 comment:

Jack said...

The word of the day is "ephemeral."