On Saturday night I experienced two seemingly opposite ends of the music spectrum, although each was enjoyable in its own way. First, Valarie and I went to see the Oregon Symphony perform Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. Shostakovich is my favorite classical composer, and the 5th is so robust and powerful that instead of politely clapping and perhaps exclaiming, “Bravo”, I felt more like pumping my fists and shouting, “Yeeeaaahhhhh!!!,” as if I were at a football game.
Then, after we enjoyed a quick bite at Clarklewis and I dropped Valarie off at home, I went over to friends Ady and Eric’s for a karaoke party. As I walked in, Ady and her sister were already belting out some 1980s chart topper. Before long, I talked myself into performing Wham’s “Everything She Wants”. Whenever I sing karaoke, I seem to harbor these delusions of grandeur that are quickly shot down to earth when the words finally come out of my mouth. And sure enough, I now cringe thinking of how I’d change octaves mid-song, searching in vain to find a good voice. But I know with karaoke it’s all part of the fun, and as another friend reminded me that night, the people who sing the worst are oddly the most successful.
One other interesting tidbit about the evening was that I wasn’t the only person going from the high culture of the symphony to the joyous ineptitude of karaoke. One of the players from the symphony was actually an attendee at the party. It reminds me of this documentary I watched last week for a review I was writing of the Northwest Film Center’s Reel Music series. It was a documentary called Music From the Inside Out, and it featured members of the Philadelphia Orchestra talking about what music meant to them intellectually, emotionally, socially, etc. The camera would often follow individual members as they engaged in different types of playing outside their work: jamming with traditional Latin music groups, listening to hip hop on headphones, watching a street musician play the accordion while on tour in some foreign city.
I guess what I’m saying is that, as with so many other types of art and culture, I enjoy the mix. Just as I sometimes go from a multi-course dinner of foie gras, twenty-three-green salad and braised duck one night to a double-quarter-pounder and fries another, it’s fun to go from Shostakovich rendered by gifted musicians to “99 Luftballoons” interpreted by a non-musician. I’d be lying if I said the symphony wasn’t infinitely better in a pure musical sense, but the karaoke was a lot of fun too. If only I could just get a little practice in with George Michael’s opus before my next moment on the living room stage.