A Microcosmos String Quartet Ear CleaningFriday, October 05, 2018
Back from a two-week trip to my native Buenos Aires a huge city with a transportation system that Vancouver could not possibly have but a bank interest lending rate of 60% that thankfully Vancouver does not have I am having a bit of trouble adjusting.
At my age of 76 I can look back at the decade of the 80s when I would dress in black and wear my Big John boots and go to punk concerts at the Smilin’ Buddha and then for High Test beer at the Marble Arch. Those days are gone and they have been replaced by gentile evenings at Early Music Vancouver/Pacific Baroque Orchestra concerts.
But at my age of 76 I find it difficult to remove myself from our comfortable Stickley bed to go anywhere, be it the theatre, dance or concerts.
My Manila-born grandmother (but very Spanish) would have said to me:
“Ante pereza, diligencia.” That translates to “When lazy practice due diligence.”
Before Rosemary and I headed for Buenos Aires I made sure I had reserved two tickets for last Friday’s Microcosmos Quartet concert.
To be frank if I were to move to a desert island the program for Friday (see below) would certainly not be on my agenda. My friend ex-music critic Les Wiseman would differ, He once told me that if he were alone on a desert island he would take Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica as it would take many hours and more to figure out the complexity of the album.
But very important, with my friend Graham Walker (the only person I know willing to go to concerts of the Microcosmos Quartet or the Turning Point Ensemble) these concerts challenge our status quo, clean out the wax in our ears and make us sit (but still stand to attention) in an effort to understand music that may not be to our understanding.
Sitting on the first row of people’s living rooms, the sound is intimate (loud, too) and the smiles on the faces of the quartet can be contagious. It is educational to have the musicians explain the history behind the music. And sometimes like this past Friday, it is exceptional to have a live, contempory composer right there to explain the composition. That the live composer happened to be the very funny (serious he would make a scary high school principal) Bradshaw Pack was a bonus.
That the Microcosmos Quartet pursues composers that are infrequently heard such as Erich Korngold or commissions living composers makes Vancouver, sometimes seen as a cultural backwater, a winner when compared to my staid, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, stuck in the 19th century both in music and in dance.