Monday, May 04, 2009

Do you see what I see?

Several weeks ago the kids’ piano teacher asked if we’d like to attend the Monster Piano Concert sponsored by MSU’s College of Music. Always looking for ways to expand our children’s artistic horizons (and give them ammunition to mock us in the years to come – “Can you believe Mom and Dad took us to that crazy concert?!”) we bought tickets and yesterday attended the concert.

The set-up was simple: eight grand pianos, eight pianists, one conductor. The pianos were facing each other, four on each side of the stage. The concert opened with songs by Brahms and Bach and thankfully I recognized them – just like any concert it’s nice when you recognize the songs (okay, fine, the “pieces” for all you purists out there, i.e. Sean). Then the pianists moved on to a Richard Wagner piece. For the uninitiated, Wagner is pronounced Vogner. But to amuse myself at these events I enjoy asking Sean if the musicians will do any work by Dick Wagner… trust me, it’s funny.

Anyway, the first half was enjoyable but not exactly what you’d call upbeat. The second half, with pieces by Scott Joplin and John Philip Sousa, promised to be a bit more toe-tapping.

When the pianists came back from intermission they rearranged themselves so the four pianists we’d been looking at on stage left had moved to stage right and we were now seeing the other four. But when we got a look at the lady leading the new four-pack we saw a bit more than anticipated.

I’ve been to a lot (A LOT) of orchestra performances and I know the traditional dress for performers is black tie. For women that usually translates to black pants and black shirt. Now, I don’t know for certain, but I’m fairly confident that a see-through black bodysuit with appliqués strategically placed over your boobies is not exactly black tie wear. But that’s what piano lady #1 was sporting. Fine, I can deal with a bit of a see-through shirt; at least we couldn’t see her boobs. I thought we couldn’t anyway. But when she turned to sit at the piano the appliqués didn’t cover the side boob cleavage. And we got a look at that for the next forty minutes; each time she reached up to turn the page there it was – side cleavage. Not good.

It’s mildly ironic; during intermission Sean and I were talking about what orchestras could do to develop more of a fan base of people under 40. We mentioned incorporating video or having the conductor or various instrumentalist address the audience, or even having the conductor give a quick history of the piece about to be performed. Yet somehow we failed to think of having the performers wear revealing clothing as an audience-booster. I suppose I don’t equate stripper attire with classically-trained musicians.

We managed to enjoy the last of the concert; the pieces by Joplin, Dvorak and Sousa were wonderful. I just hope the kids remember some of the music and not only the crazy piano lady with the see-through shirt. What am I thinking? Of course that’s all they’ll remember – but at least they’ll remember we spent Sunday afternoons together.