Symphonic Seattle Discoveries

Symphonic Seattle Discoveries

By Dana Needelman

A few weeks ago when I attended the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, showcasing works from Provokiev, Haydn and Mozart, I had a solid understanding of the performance I was about to experience. The arts have played an integral part in my upbringing seeing that I have played piano starting at age three and went to many symphonies, plays and dance shows as birthday and holiday presents throughout my life. Despite this, I was still extremely excited to have a totally new experience at the symphony. This was my first time going to a performance like this without my family, in a new city, arriving by public transport, and with my new knowledge and appreciation of music acquired by taking a music appreciation class at UW. As the show was going on and after it concluded, I was blown away by the performance and the impact it had on me. Seeing a musical performance of any kind transforms the music into an experience. I was just as moved, just in different ways, by this classical performance as I was seeing Sigur Ros, Tame Impala, Eric Clapton, and James Blake in concert. Being able to watch, feel, hear, and become entranced with the music is something that is overwhelmingly powerful at concerts compared to just listening to music. 

My experience at this concert was also further enhanced by my knowledge of Haydn and Mozart’s music that I learned in my music class. I expected to have more of a connection to these pieces because I had studied the composers and was familiar with the structure of their music. Although this was true in some ways, I was equally impressed by all of the pieces regardless of my previous knowledge on the composers. What I did notice, however, was that I was entranced by the two pieces that had piano as a main part of the composition. This could be from my love and study of piano, or it could be that these pieces sounded more complete and had a fuller sound than the others.

The most spectacular aspect of this concert for me was the feeling that came along with realizing that I was watching this fantastic music being produced right before my eyes. Throughout the show I would close my eyes and let the music take over my mind, and every time when I would reopen my eyes, I would get an overwhelming feeling of astonishment that all of these people and instruments were working together to create these sounds in real time. The music completely entrapped my listening, my sight, and the physical feeling of the music. This experience happened specifically while listening to piano piece by Prokofiev, which was composed for a man who had lost his right hand in battle, so the entirety of the piano was played in the left hand. I got lost in the music, in the beauty of Benaorya Hall, in the fluid motions of the orchestra working together, and then suddenly was drawn back to the pianist. The piano piece that I was hearing was being played solely with one hand. I had a complete moment of awe and got shivers down my spine. This amazement continued until the end of the piece when the pianist played the final notes with power and stood up instantly and shook out his left hand as the crowd roared. I once again was in awe that I had just watched a man perform this beautiful instrument in a gorgeous symphony, with one hand.

Considering my background in piano and the number of musical performances attended, I was not expecting this concert to have a huge impact on me. However, whether it be from maturity, my knowledge built in my music class, or simply the level of talent in the compositions and performers, I was blown away by these pieces. Being able to experience this concert in such a gorgeous building with such talented musicians really transformed this concert into an experience.