Friday, November 2, 2012

Epic Night of Epic Proportions

Last week I went on a Fancy Date to the Philharmonic. I got dressed up and rode my fancy towncar the 66 to Harvard and got to see the Boston Philharmonic perform Jean Sibelius' piece "Lemminkainen and the Maidens of the Island," inspired by a chunk of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic.

I am a huge nerd. I am obsessed with the Kalevala. I don't know how to listen to music. So imagine, a nerd like me twitching in the cheap seats, not sure if I'm supposed to be looking bored with all the epic that surrounded me--a full philharmonic, Sanders Theater in Harvard, fancy people from Cambridge--or giddy with excitement. Which I was. The best part was that the conductor, Benjamin Zander explained a bit about the piece, and Sibelius, and then had the different parts of the orchestra play tiny elements of the music and explained their significance musically and for the atmosphere of the piece. It was SO AWESOME. And it really helped my understand and appreciate what was happening when the piece began for real.

So I was impressed by Zander, whose book, The Art of Possibility we have a used copy of at the moment. A book that gives practicable advice to boost creativity.

And I was impressed by Sibelius who could somehow translate all the awesome epic atmosphere and action of the Kalevala, and in particular the scene it illustrated, a small sliver of the story where the hero Lemminkainen visits some island maidens and woos them all. Sibelius captured the ocean and the sea birds, demonstrating sonically that we were on an island. He captured a festivity, and all the drama and backing and forthing of a dramatic love affair. All in like, 12 minutes of music. It was truly inspiring.

If you haven't read the Kalevala, you must. It's got it all: magic, wizards, love, hate, curses, travel, adventure. It's like a Scandinavian Odyssey with a way bigger cast of characters and a harder, darker core.

If you haven't read Zander's book, you must. I'm a convert.

And if you've already read the Kalevala, happenstance brought the UBC a copy of Return to Kalevala by Richard Worth just yesterday. It's a fantasy novel inspired by the Kalevala.

So come to the UBC and discover a piece of Finland. Or uncover your own creativity. Or come find a treasure that might inspire you to go on your own cultural adventure in the city (a book on the Renaissance that might inform a trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, perhaps?).

No comments: