The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

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IcedNote
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The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by IcedNote » Thu May 10, 2012 11:10 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/arts/ ... &ref=music

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On Wednesday evening, during a particularly poignant passage of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, blood began pouring out of the mouth of the young violinist Hahn-Bin.

The violinist Hahn-Bin donned a rainbow flag as a cape at the conclusion of his performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday, in a program that also included the cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan and the pianist Ran Dank.

Tchaikovsky wears his heart on his sleeve. Hahn-Bin, it seemed to me, was making that literal.

It was an unlikely occasion for one of Hahn-Bin’s dazzling, genuinely provocative takes on classical music as performance art. The Young Concert Artists gala at Alice Tully Hall is usually a proper affair, with talented rising artists playing the standard repertory with assurance.

The first half of Wednesday’s program went according to that script. Narek Hakhnazaryan brought sweet, warm tone to Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and Ran Dank met the tremendous technical challenges of Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto. But neither had a unique or powerful take on the music: I wanted more intense lyricism from Mr. Hakhnazaryan and a deeper sense of the Prokofiev’s dark side from the genial Mr. Dank.

But it was clear when the audience returned from intermission that something quite different was happening. The stage had been set with a chair of crumpled black plastic and a small set of steps. The concertmaster of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s placed a violin on the chair. The conductor, Jorge Mester, came in, and the music began.

Hahn-Bin entered, draped in an American flag, which he tossed aside, along with a can of Budweiser, revealing a sleeveless denim shirt over a white tank top stained with red; skintight denim shorts; and chunky black leather boots. When the woman behind me asked what was written on the back of the shirt in big pink letters, I was obliged to tell her: It was a derogatory word for gay men, followed, alliteratively, by “freak.”

The playing that followed was excellent: alternately husky and honeyed, forceful and impassioned. Hahn-Bin’s jerky, aggressive movements — pacing the stage, making dramatic swipes in the air with his bow — heightened the tension between soloist and orchestra that is fundamental to the concerto form.

This is a tension that comes through in any good performance, even a more typical one, but Hahn-Bin’s also touchingly suggested a connection between Tchaikovsky’s aching emotionalism and his agonizing battle with his homosexuality.

Other classical artists, including the pianists Yuja Wang and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, have long experimented with unusual concert attire, but Hahn-Bin goes further, evoking something of what Liszt’s deliriously sweaty, grandiosely hypersexualized concerts must have felt like.

After uncertain, ragged playing in the program’s first half, the St. Luke’s ensemble was fully committed by the Tchaikovsky blazing finale, where Hahn-Bin was in triumphal mode, wearing a rainbow flag as a cape and marching up the set of stairs. Whether or not the performance was intended as a nod to President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage a few hours before, the timing was impeccable.
8)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by Lance » Fri May 11, 2012 1:27 am

Hmm. What does one say to such a review? I wonder what the "average" concert-goer thinks of these proceedings, and especially the new "attire."
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rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by diegobueno » Fri May 11, 2012 7:14 am

Sounds more like something he should be ashamed of.

IcedNote
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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by IcedNote » Fri May 11, 2012 11:06 am

[sarcasm] Ah, yes, we must protect the Concert Music Shrine! [/sarcasm]

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by diegobueno » Fri May 11, 2012 1:10 pm

I say he should just get on stage and play his fiddle. Forget this stagey crap.

Garrett, are you saying you're in favor of this?????

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by jbuck919 » Fri May 11, 2012 3:09 pm

Hahn-Bin entered, draped in an American flag, which he tossed aside, along with a can of Budweiser, revealing a sleeveless denim shirt over a white tank top stained with red; skintight denim shorts; and chunky black leather boots.
Subtle. (He forgot to mention the rainbow cape.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by living_stradivarius » Fri May 11, 2012 4:02 pm

Oh my friend's wall yesterday: "Oh, San Francisco. Here I am, standing in the lovely sun outside symphony hall, excited for dinner with one of tonight's SF Symphony soloists and an old friend and what is in front of the opera house? A large naked man, of course."
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IcedNote
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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by IcedNote » Fri May 11, 2012 8:37 pm

diegobueno wrote:Garrett, are you saying you're in favor of this?????
I am. First, classical musicians need to show some personality. Second, I appreciate well-timed acts of political/social activism.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by Wallingford » Fri May 11, 2012 10:21 pm

Honestly and sincerely, I ain't votin' for that bully Romney.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by diegobueno » Fri May 11, 2012 10:27 pm

IcedNote wrote:
diegobueno wrote:Garrett, are you saying you're in favor of this?????
I am. First, classical musicians need to show some personality. Second, I appreciate well-timed acts of political/social activism.

-G
Garrett, I don't give two sh!ts what a violinist thinks about gay rights or gay identity. I want to know what he thinks about Tchaikovsky. Yes, Tchaikovsky was gay, but he was much more than that. He was a composer of genius and he wrote a lovely, lyrical violin concerto, not a social or political tract.

This is such an extremely poor way to show "personality". If a musician really wants to show personality, he or she can start by showing us the composer's personality as he/she understands it based on what meaning he/she finds in the notes, not by putting on tawdry displays which only distract from the music.

Spare me the political/social activism. There's too much of that already. This is nothing but the Eurotrash infection spreading to the concert hall. I'll have none of it.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by Bro » Sat May 12, 2012 8:04 am

I think it was a good idea to shake up the 'Alice Tully Hall' crowd but maybe don't make a habit of it,...say,,.. once every 40 years or so. :wink:

I agree with all statements concerning Mitt Romney posted so far.

Nice cape, btw.


Bro

IcedNote
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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by IcedNote » Sat May 12, 2012 10:34 am

diegobueno wrote: Garrett, I don't give two sh!ts what a violinist thinks about gay rights or gay identity. I want to know what he thinks about Tchaikovsky. Yes, Tchaikovsky was gay, but he was much more than that. He was a composer of genius and he wrote a lovely, lyrical violin concerto, not a social or political tract.
Oh, c'mon, Mark, don't cheapen this by making it about Tchaikovsky. I dare say that it's much more likely that it was in response to Obama's announcement that day that he supports gay marriage.

-G
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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by diegobueno » Sat May 12, 2012 10:48 am

IcedNote wrote:
diegobueno wrote: Garrett, I don't give two sh!ts what a violinist thinks about gay rights or gay identity. I want to know what he thinks about Tchaikovsky. Yes, Tchaikovsky was gay, but he was much more than that. He was a composer of genius and he wrote a lovely, lyrical violin concerto, not a social or political tract.
Oh, c'mon, Mark, don't cheapen this by making it about Tchaikovsky. I dare say that it's much more likely that it was in response to Obama's announcement that day that he supports gay marriage.

-G
Garrett, he was cheapening it by making it about something other than Tchaikovksy!

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by Werner » Sat May 12, 2012 3:03 pm

Right, Mark!
Werner Isler

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by Burbage » Sat May 12, 2012 3:57 pm

diegobueno wrote:he was cheapening it by making it about something other than Tchaikovksy!
Perhaps. But I, too, am broadly in favour.

For a start, this is the sort of thing Hahn-Bin does and, by all accounts, he does it well. There is no good reason why he shouldn't, provided he can get the bookings. And, as the article claims, there are precedents, to which I'd add the artist formerly known as Kennedy, who had the temerity to wear jeans and affect a common accent, to shocking effect in London - even though it didn't noticeably diminish the quality of his music or the reputations of the composers he borrowed it from.

Secondly, this could have been as much an artistic statement as political, and there's nothing much wrong with artists making artistic statements. We pay them to communicate what they feel, and it seems odd to condemn the visual just because it's not in the score. Dressing for dinner and handing the audience some music is the tradition Tchaikovsky would have been familiar with, but it's never been the only way. Even if it's seen as a purely political statement, the only thing I might question is the timing. Making a statement after the battle is won is never particularly helpful, and can look like gloating. But I don't know enough of the political or personal history to tell.

Thirdly, this might indeed offer another dimension to performance that attracts and intrigues, and if that helps keep the classical box office turning over, so much the better. Even if it only keeps Hahn-Bin in bread and cheese, it's something of a result in the current climate. After all, if I remember rightly, it's not too long since we had a discussion about young violinists having to trudge the dismal path from Mendelssohn to Bruch with identikit technique and second-hand insight to ill-deserved obscurity on the retirement-home circuit. This breaks that mould, even if only incidentally. And, if it as incidental as it seems to be, then it's hardly upsetting the music.

There are dangers, of course. Notoriety can be toxic, and the ghost of Liberace hovers depressingly near. But this seems far from that territory and appears to hold more integrity than (with all due respect to the many connoisseurs of the genre) the cynical frame of mind that turns an album cover into a centrefold. Gratuitous is the watchword and, from what I can tell, Hahn-Bin has, so far, avoided it.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by Agnes Selby » Sat May 12, 2012 5:29 pm

Time to listen to music with closed eyes and forget the circus.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by barney » Sun May 13, 2012 3:27 am

More good sense from Agnes

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by Agnes Selby » Sun May 13, 2012 6:40 am

barney wrote:More good sense from Agnes
Thank you, Barney. I thought you would think along the same lines.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by diegobueno » Sun May 13, 2012 9:42 am

Burbage wrote:Gratuitous is the watchword and, from what I can tell, Hahn-Bin has, so far, avoided it.
Excuse me, but:
New York Times wrote:Hahn-Bin entered, draped in an American flag, which he tossed aside, along with a can of Budweiser, revealing a sleeveless denim shirt over a white tank top stained with red;
This gesture alone defines gratuitousness, and automatically forfeits the musician's right to be taken seriously.

Let me amplify that thought. This is exactly the kind of gesture that I've seen time after time at anti-war protests in the early 70s (yeah, I went to those). It was cringe-inducing even then. The disrespect to the flag, the can of Bud, that was part and parcel of the protester's repertory. So even within the context of the lefty street demonstration, this is hackneyed and cliched. On the concert stage four decades later, it is inexcusable.

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by david johnson » Sun May 13, 2012 3:14 pm

"Spare me the political/social activism. There's too much of that already. This is nothing but the Eurotrash infection spreading to the concert hall. I'll have none of it."

Amen!

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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 13, 2012 3:55 pm

diegobueno wrote:The disrespect to the flag,
It just occurred to me that this happened next door to the David H. Koch Theater. We're lucky that he can't rescind what he's already given (or at least I hope not), but if we're going to depend on people like him for what arts funding we have, this kind of thing has got to stop. Of course, in the US, public funding has been no more tolerant of such shenanigans.

Say, come to think of it, how come this guy wasn't just pulled of stage and arrested? :twisted:

(Seriously, I agree with Mark, but I do see the possibility of something like this being politicized beyond an issue of bad taste.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: The Gay Pride Movement Enters Alice Tully Hall

Post by lennygoran » Mon May 14, 2012 6:07 am

jbuck919 wrote: It just occurred to me that this happened next door to the David H. Koch Theater. We're lucky
I'm lucky too because it's not the theater where I spend my Lincoln Center time. Regards, Len of the Met! [fleeing]

PS--otoh the ET productions may be even worse than what happened at AT Hall

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