Synchromy in The Russian Hall

Often we resist the unknown, inconvenient and different. Last Friday I resisted going to the concert in Hollywood my friend invited me to. “How bizarre, a concert in a Russian Church.”- I thought, but I still went without any expectations. Here is what happened in the next two hours after we arrived…

The concert started with Raison d’Etre by The Vientos Trio– three instruments Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon. It was very playful and meaningful. Three musicians were challenging common definitions of the performance and what it is for, reasons to love and play musical instruments. To me they spoke about life and happiness: we all have our own reasons to live for and love life for.

The next piece was by Jason Barabba called Shouting advice from the international dateline, being mistaken for God… Jason said that the idea came from a show, where the panelists were asked about a place where you could look into the future, the answer being the international dateline because you skip a day when you cross over it. Johnny Vegas, one of the panelists on the show, said the following: “Me personally (but I’m selfish), what I would do I’d get a jet ski and stay on the line and go around the world continually, following that line, shouting advice and being mistaken for God.” It stuck with Jason. And this piece was born.

As I was listening to it, I couldn’t stop thinking about a person who is passing by on a jet ski and shouting advice on how to live. Would I believe him? Probably not, as it sounds ridiculous. Would I feel better? Probably yes, as it totally distracts me from my worries and puts my attention to a crazy person striving to get attention. And perhaps, sympathize with him and what he is doing.

Sometimes all we need is to get distracted from our selfish needs and see that others have bigger thing to worry about. “When life’s problems seem overwhelming, look around and see what other people are copying with. You may consider yourself fortunate” ~Ann Landers.

Daniel Gall’s Grace was “about the strength that comes from losing yourself in emotion. When it is too much and you lose control, there is a state of grace to be had. There is grace in despair… The piece is a descending gesture, it’s falling, melting, crying, sighing, etc. And as we descend we also shift chromatically downwards, furthering our descent, and often shifting into a dissonance with the counterpoint that drives my music forward.”

I experienced grace that felt like sadness, it felt like when we learn that we are missing something in our lives that we can’t get. Then suddenly we were struck by Vera Ivanova’s piece for solo piano – one of the Three studies in uneven Meters. The pianist was able to learn only one out of three pieces, which means that the piece is technically and emotionally complex.

Even though it was about two minutes long, it felt like a crisis ending in catharsis. When someone has a crisis in life and it usually peaks at some point when we ask: “What the hell is my life about? What do I do now?” The catharsis may even be followed by depression. If only we knew how to recognize what to do next…

Damjan Rakonjac’s Variations piece was warm vs cold tones and one style overlapping another. I felt like a visitor in the Isabella Gardner Museum, where you can find an eclectic collection of anything your heart desires from different countries and centuries. You just need to know what you like. The Universe is abundant and life is full of surprises. If you are unhappy, you should never stop, but continue walking, experimenting, striving to meet your true self.

Dante De Silva – The Absurd ABC made a profound impact on me. Dante mentioned that after the birth of his son, his life changed: composing has become a much more difficult task. “One would think that the decreased number of hours that I could write would be the problem, but it isn’t. The problem is that those few hours come after a long day of diaper changes, baby talk, reading children’s books, playing with the same toys for hours, and acting like a baby. When he finally goes to bed, I can concentrate on writing, but my mind is conforming to baby standards and I can’t think analytically or critically enough to write. All that is going through my mind is what Curious George just did or if I forgot to say good night to the cow jumping over the moon.” Jason had an idea to combine some of that baby time and writing time together. He found the Absurd ABC, an alphabet-themed picture book by Walter Crane published in 1874 at LibriVox.org book. He downloaded the recording of it performed by Sam Stinson, and digitally chopped it up to isolate the letters and make sentences that aren’t in the original text. As a result of composing this piece, his son learned ABCs.

As I was listening to Dante’s piece, I couldn’t stop feeling him struggling and moving on at the same time, overcoming difficulties and learning from them. There is no growth without suffering. That is when true transformation happens.

The last piece was Jenni Brandon’s Sea Quartet. She said she was “inspired by the beautiful ocean beside which she lives as well as the many trips she has taken to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.”

Instead of the sea I heard something else. I heard inner peace. That is what it sounded like: no matter what happens in life, it cannot disrupt what you have inside you. “This joy that I have – the world didn’t give it, the world can’t take it away” ~ Shirley Caesar.

At the end of the concert I was browsing through the wave-like paintings by Daniel Gall and wondering how beautiful it is to not have any expectations sometimes. Life is full of surprises indeed. Who knew?

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