Los Angeles Concert Review: WEST SIDE CONNECTIONS 1: MUSIC & STORY with Mark Salzman (The Broad Stage in Santa Monica)

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by Jason Rohrer on September 16, 2012

in Theater-Los Angeles


from: Office of Setting Things Up

to: Offices of no names; we’re all friends here

re: the other night at the Broad

We want to start by thanking you all for your hard work, your good work.  You are appreciated.  As you know, we’ve had our first Music & Story event of the season, when a novelist/speaker is paired with members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (although the event’s title is somewhat confusing, as it is also known as Westside Connections).  And it went just great.  Mostly.  This is just a note to make sure we’re all on the same page for next time. Since, as you may have noticed, not entirely everything went 100 percent.

Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema review of LACO/WESTSIDE CONNECTIONS at the Broad, Santa MonicaFirst off, how about that Mark Salzman, huh?  Great nab getting him to be a part of Music & Story.  Having the writer of Iron and Silk tell his story about writing the book about the nun, and how he had writer’s block, or not writer’s block exactly but, well, some trouble writing this book, and how the Bach Cello Suite No. 3 in C major helped him get through that?  Great work.  But this is one of the things that prompted our writing this memo:  it seems that a couple of the patrons have reported being a little puzzled about how his story exactly had anything to do with the No. 3, since he didn’t really reference the suite particularly much in his story, which was more about how he dealt with his cats bugging him while he was writing (truly funny stuff) and how much wine he drank when he was at a “Writer’s Retreat.”  Although one patron was overheard objecting to the fact that he mentioned drinking “box” wine, it did remind me that I have to turn some Cabernet when I get home.

Cellist Andrew Shulman’s work on the No. 3 was stunning, but the interrupting-the-music-to-talk part has got some of us a little flummoxed.  We know that’s the whole Music & Story thing, but it’s just that we’re wondering if that’s really the best way to serve the music, and the story really also, you know?  To have them interrupt each other six times.  See, just because the cello suite has six movements, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the space in between the movements should be filled up with talking.

Okay, one other thing:

Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema review of LACO/WESTSIDE CONNECTIONS at the Broad, Santa MonicaThere were two main parts to the show the other night, right?  There was the Bach, with Mark Salzman and Andrew Shulman, right?  Okay, and that was what, about an hour?  And then a Mozart piano trio in  E major.  Bernadine Blaha on piano, Tereza Stanislav on the violin, Mr. Shulman again with the cello.  Just breathtaking.  And that second part’s almost an hour, too  But there was no intermission, which struck some of us as a little weird.  Especially since the Mozart Piano Trio in E major is a pretty peppy number, and the Bach cello suites can run a little melancholy.  When patrons saw the stagehands come out and start moving the piano around, a bunch of them got up and started heading out toward the lobby and the, uh, the restrooms.  Yes, even though the house lights didn’t go up, some of the patrons started to go out.  I guess it seemed to them that an hour’s worth of show was a good time for an intermission, house lights or no house lights.

But here’s another thing:  Was there maybe something a little bit on the fritz with the darned air conditioning?  Because a number of the confused folks were so hot and thirsty, they had to step over other patrons to get out.  Upon exiting,  someone who heard that this wasn’t an intermission said, “Well, it sure ought to be!”

And so it’s a shame that a number of the folks missed the first part of the Mozart and then had to stand in the back of the house when they came back in confusion from the lobby.  It must be said, however, that The Broad acoustics make it seem like it was built for a chamber orchestra; one cello fills the entire hall, and the piano and violin absolutely just land perfectly on the ears in this wonderful space. The standing patrons were still able to hear every beautiful note as if they were fourth row center.

Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema review of LACO/WESTSIDE CONNECTIONS at the Broad, Santa MonicaOkay, so, have we covered everything?  Let’s see: great work, everybody.  The LACO musicians: fantastic.  The Broad acoustics: ideal for this type of show.  And let’s think about maybe trying to not interrupt the music so much with the talking, or if we do want to keep doing that, let’s try and use a story that’s more in the mood of, or even about, the piece of music being played.  And let’s try and have an intermission if the show’s going to run much over an hour and a half.  Oh, well, and, yes, let’s try and make sure the AC’s on when we’ve got a packed house and it’s a heat wave outside.  Okay?  Thanks, everybody!  And remember, the 405’s going to be closed at the end of the month, so take your bicycle to work!

end memo


Westside Connections 1: Music & Story
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at the Broad Stages in Santa Monica
for tickets, please call (213) 622-7001 x 1
for information on future dates, please visit http://www.laco.org

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