Last Saturday, bar and I attended a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra, featuring Leonard Slatkin as conductor, and Peter Schickele as semiconductor.
Professor Schickele provided some background for a couple of his works, explaining that his "Unbegun Symphony" was called that because, when his deadline arrived, the parts he had completed seemed like they should be the second and third movements, so it was lacking a beginning one. He said he didn't actually write a note of music for the piece, but simply gathered up quotes from other works he knew about, being unable to quote pieces he didn't know about.
Leonard Slatkin also conducted a piece written by his father, Felix, titled "Carmen's Hoedown." YRH, if you have this available, it's my request for Classical Comedy.
The evening finished off with PDQ Bach's 1712 Overture, directed by Prof. Schickele. I've heard it several times, but seeing it is far better. There is a period of approximately five minutes while the organ (and they have a heck of a pipe organ in the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall) plays solo. The entire orchestra seems to go on break, including the conductor. The percussionists were playing badminton, the winds appeared to be building a Christmas tree out of newspaper, just no end to the fun.
Although I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it (having admonished beethoven.com several times for playing this specific pop piece as classical music), they also played Leroy Anderson's Syncopated Clock
and The Typewriter
. Leonard Slatkin played the featured solo. When the piece was about to begin, two piano movers brought in a typewriter on a table. Mr. Slatkin gestured several times about exactly how the table should be positioned, and once he was satisfied, the audience could see the "Steinway" label on the typewriter table. The oboist blew a note, and Mr. Slatkin looked puzzled at his instrument, then at the oboist, who then raised a large card with the letter "A" printed on it. Mr. Slatkin pressed the A key on the typewriter, and seemed satisfied that he was properly tuned.
It was fun in a way I haven't had fun at a symphony in a long time.