Monday, May 05, 2008

Widening Gyre

I've just started listening to the Concert Programme's podcast for May. It's Anthony Ritchie's The Widening Gyre, performed by the Christchurch Symphony, under Marc Taddei.
Here's a little of what's said about it:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

The poem suggests that a gyre (a revolution or rotation) will bring about a ‘second coming’ of an important historical figure, and the dawn of a new millennium (the gyre is represented by a rolling, sliding timpani sound). Yeats’ vision is pessimistic, however: he sees the coming of a ‘rough beast’ who might be equated with certain infamous historical figures from the twentieth century.

I know a small amount of Ritchie's music, and attended the premiere performance of the piece he did in collaboration with George Griffiths, for the Otago 150th Anniversary: From the Southern Marches. I was so impressed with that I bought the CD when it finally came out, something I only rarely do.
I also went to The God Boy. I'd been asked to assist with the rehearsals as a repetiteur, but it would have meant taking two or three weeks off work, which I couldn't really do - and the music looked as though it needed more concentration that my mind was really up to anyway. I don't much enjoy repetiteuring work these days; I've never enjoyed following a conductor at the best of times (!)
Repetiteuring now feels a bit like some kind of exam time, and I've had enough exams for this life. I don't mind coaching a singer, because then you've got some rapport. But conductors always have a good deal on their mind besides the repetiteur and you can't afford too many mistakes. It puts them off. Getting out of sync with them puts them off (you) even more.
Talking of exams, I just remembered, in one of those lateral thinking moments, that yesterday at church, when we were doing the lunches, we didn't wear exam gloves. That's a relief. I always find they smell more than the food!
I meant to say I enjoyed The God Boy, though it takes a fair effort of mind to focus on a modern opera for a couple of hours. Ritchie doesn't eschew melody, which is a relief, but even in spite of his melodic lines, attending an opera for the first time, without any real means of preparing oneself for the music, is quite a task for the brain. There's only so much the brain can take in, and opera's don't give the listener much room for a bit or R & R.

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