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Bach and Stravinsky

(note: I struggled to write this post because all I can think about is Japan. But this concert allowed me to think about something else for a few hours, so I can at least share that pleasure with you.)

Last night Mom, Chloe, Henry, and I went to UCSD to hear a concert. It was Bach’s Sonata in G Minor for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord (played on modern viola), and Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” and it was just marvelous from beginning to end.

Embarrassing as it is to say, I haven’t been to a proper classical music concert in years, I guess… I’d forgotten how amazing it is to hear real live musicians. The viola and harpsichord piece was just as lovely as you might imagine. The viola was rich and velvety, and the harpsichord had none of that nasally sound they can sometimes get. And it was Bach. What more do I need to say? The audience loved it and wouldn’t stop clapping so the musicians had to come back for three curtain calls! Also, no one clapped during the movements, thank goodness. I’m always nervous about that. But the audience was mostly old people and university music students so I guess they knew how to behave.

The harpsichord:


Then there was intermission, and the crew whisked away the harpsichord and brought in the chairs and stands for the Stravinsky piece.


“L’Histoire du Soldat” is an interesting and unusual piece (written in 1918, I think) and is played by a septet of woodwinds, strings, brass, and percussion, with a story which is read by a Narrator, a Soldier, and the Devil. The conductor was excellent. I love to watch a good conductor. The part of the Narrator was read by a dapper Englishman in evening dress, the Soldier was read by Seth Lerer (more about him further down), and the Devil was read by a dark-haired woman who reminded me of Lily Tomlin’s “Edith Ann” character. All three were perfect. Marvelous piece!!! My favorite bit is the second little piece, the “Airs by a Stream”, but it’s all fantastic.

The bass player broke a string about five minutes in, so he ran away to find a new string, and then they started the whole thing over. I’ve never seen that happen before.

Oh, yeah, Seth Lerer! I’ve been listening to his lecture series on “The History of the English Language” for years, and I recently got his “Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer” which is as good as it sounds. I also have his book “Inventing English” and I’m looking for a hardback copy of his “Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter”.

His voice is like the voice of an old friend, so seeing and hearing him perform live was amazing! It turns out he’s the Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCSD. I had no idea! After the concert we found the door to the backstage area and I bravely marched in and found him, and asked if he’d sign my copy of “Inventing English”! He was very sweet and friendly, and signed my book “To Kara – Warmest wishes – Seth”. Squeal!


I guess I’m a linguistics fangirl. Hilarious.

Category: Blog 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Bach and Stravinsky”

  1. Emi

    Hi Kara,

    Just thought of you and searched on Facebook, and ended up with this site. Hope you and Henry are doing well. I see you have an unofficial fan page on FB!

  2. kara

    Hi Emi! Interesting… as far as I know, I don’t have a facebook account so I have no idea how you found me! Facebook mystifies me :) Had no idea I had a fan page. Fun! MInd giving me an url? I’ll bet Henry would let me see it on HIS facebook account.

  3. Jennifer in MamaLand

    I actually looked it up because I couldn’t find any way to offer feedback. Here’s what I wanted to say: My kids and I just listened to the “Crab” story from Just So Stories on Kazoomzoom (never heard of it before today) and absolutely LOVED it. I tried reading Just So Stories to them before, but you really make it spring from the page. Can’t wait to hear the others.

    Here’s where we downloaded it from.
    Thank you!!!

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