time to change the way we view music and the arts

Only a Fantasy

A couple of things that caught my attention this morning and are both slightly shocking but intriguing.

A piece of poignant news almost made me choke on my coffee this morning when I read the headline. Me being a violinist, I’m sure you will understand why:

“Ms. Meyers and the 3.6 Million Dollar Violin.”

erhm…even writing that number makes me choke a little. Almost sounds like the title for some fantasy novel. Something you would love to read about, love even more to hear for yourself, but only dream of being able to own -or even play or even simply touch, for yourself. It’s a Stradivarius, which immediately removes any skepticism as to why on earth an instrument would sell for this record setting price. Enough of my dripping envy though. The giant price tag isn’t the only thing that made for good media. Below I’ve put a link to the clip of Anne Akiko Meyers performing (what was live last night) for MSNBC’s segment, Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Since Olbermann doesn’t typically feature musical acts but MSNBC is a frequented news source for the general population, the quick performance makes for a great and non-intrusive way to have people see and hear a master player in action without the all too common barrier of intimidation. I’d put it in with that category of “Great things come in small packages.” Who knows what person may finish this video and feel inspired to read up on Gershwin or on Antonio Stradivari or the violin in general…not to mention come to enjoy Meyers’ music at other points in the future. The thought of a person doing any of those things makes me happy.

Clip Link: Ms. Meyers and the $3.6 million violin

After taking that in, I happened to skim an article all about cutbacks at the Sydney Opera House.
Now, the ridiculously iconic hall has been in and out of the news eye plenty over recent months, what with the building being infused with funding for a construction upgrade, then dissecting possible pros and cons in doing the reconstruction, and then with opera virtuoso, Joan Sutherland’s passing, the effort to have the opera house renamed in the Austrailian singer’s honor.

While I certainly took time comb over each of those topics of discussion, another recent announcement I found during my digging might appeal to more than just the opera or architecturally inclined. Among a swarm of arts publications, I found a link to a page from Atomic Magazine’s website; an Australian company site about computers and gaming and things of the like. What do computing and gaming have to do with the Sydney Opera House? How could that end up there anyway?

Answer: The Sydney Symphony and a special program that is to be performed in April of next year.

Atomic Magazine made mention of what the Sydney Symphony’s website is calling a “concert experience,” entitled: Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy. For those of you not familiar, Final Fantasy is the base name for a long existing franchise of numerically serial role playing video games that started with the launch of “Final Fantasy” in 1987. Since then the only thing that stays definitively constant with each installment is the name and increasing digit.

Anyway, why this is so amazing is the fact that a very niche-specific product, like a role playing video game, could garner the attention of gamer enthusiasts, professional musicians and notable concert venues alike. (Past venues with similar concerts include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA, the Gibson Ampitheatre, the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center among others.) The range of elements that can appeal to varying potential audience members is commendable to say the least. With promise of accompanying video and still visuals from past and future installments, graphic designers and visual artists have something to sink their specialized teeth into. Gamers obviously will feel nostalgia from the familiar melodies played in intricate and beautiful arrangements, beyond the limits of outdated bit sounds or smaller, previously composed orchestrations. And last but not least, musicians in the crowd will hear pieces reflecting anything but what may be for some, assumed juvenile taste. All this by a man famed in the “game music” world, though not initially formally trained [1]

Minus the significant cost it would be for me to fly to Australia, the performance is listed on the Sydney Symphony’s Official Website as having tickets start at only 35 dollars. Sounds like a good deal to me. However, much like the record breaking Strad, a bargain ticket to get into a door on the other side of the world really only serves as a nice fantasy.

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