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The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

An evening at the Boston Symphony Orchestra

By Taylor Rapalyea
Staff Writer

The Boston Symphony Orchestra conjures images of class and sophistication, gleaming brass binoculars, and all-black ensembles, which is why it was hilarious that I was sitting in front of a group of women from Queens who prattled through the whole thing.

Honestly it was kind of a delight—like Real Housewives mixed with compelling music by Sebastian Currier. It was a real-life cultural mash up like I’ve never seen before.

I know little to nothing about music. I was anticipating being totally lost. But the Symphony was a surprisingly attainable, human experience.

The season wrap-up of the BSO was Sunday—I attended the previous Thursday, during the world premiere of Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, commissioned by the BSO. The show opened with “Nuages and Fêtes” from “Nocturnes” by Debussy, and ended with “Symphonic Dances” by Rachmaninoff.

I was not wild about the “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.” It was too advanced for my pathetic musical palate. I was simply unable to wrap my head around it. But when the pianist came onstage, the ladies from Queens commented, “Oh yes. He’s tall, skinny… got that scruffy beard. He’s cute.”

So I was in stitches for the first 60 seconds.

The rest of the symphony was not beyond me, luckily. In fact, I found it to be very pleasant. “Nuages and Fêtes” swept me away, and caused me to forget, multiple times, that I was one in a sea of people.

It felt like I imagine virtual reality feels. You can tell everyone is experiencing something different—that the music was evoking different emotions and memories. It was a trip. It was relaxing. It was a cultural experience that didn’t force a plotline on me—I could create my own.

I didn’t expect to find the Symphony so lovely, since I am wholly uneducated in classical music. But I highly recommend it to anyone looking to escape for a couple hours.

Also, it was hilarious. The sassy ladies from Queens notwithstanding, once the final violin was silenced after the first score, everyone in the concert hall coughed. Every single person.

This raw, civilized event was made perfect with punctuations of purely human antics. A Russian woman cursed at me for some reason. The ladies from Queens shared saltines and Botox tips.

The Rachmaninoff piece was not nearly as enchanting as Debussy, so my suggestion—if I knew what I was talking about—would be to look for more pieces written by French composers.

Again, I have no idea what’s happening in the world of classical music. But one of my companions at the premiere, who is well-versed on classical composers, loved the “Concerto for Piano.” He was practically giddy afterward.

“Phenomenal program, inspiring pianist, more older people than usual, more vocal elderly than any other concert I’ve been to in my whole life, in the United States or Europe,” he said.

A chorus of coughs, of gabbing, and of captivating classical music—I will be thrilled to attend the symphony again. Even as a commoner.

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