Concert details to be found here. Some more information over at EarBox, written by the conductor. Gotta love the introductory paragraph:
OK, all you Zappa heads out there in the audience. I can recognize you a mile away because of all the midriff bulge, the surfeit of facial hair and that “show me” scowl on your faces. I just hope you’ve not already been served for illegally making your own unlicensed “Burnt Weeny Sandwich” tee shirts.
(Hat tip: David Ocker)
8 thoughts on “LA Phil Plays Zappa”
Wait a minute – the conductor is going to be John Adams? John Adams the well-known composer?
That’s interesting. I remember a short interview with him in the New York Times from about a year ago. They asked what he had on his iPod, and he said his son had loaded it with all kinds of music, just about all of which he liked, except for the Zappa.
Of course, I can’t find it now, so maybe I’m mistaken. I did find an NYT article saying that Adams had conducted the Ensemble Modern in a program including some Yellow Shark pieces back in 1996, so he already knows the material.
I saw Adams conducting the Ensemble Modern at the Proms (at the Royal Albert Hall, of course) in ’97 , in concert of contemporary composers including Reich and Glass and Lou Harrison and others (this was all Yellow Shark stuff, but with a surprise encore of Moggio thrown in – ‘What’s the secret word for tonight John?’ someone shouted, ‘Moggio’ he replied raising his batton), and around that time he also conducted the London Sinfonietta in a programme which included the orchestral Dupree’s Paradise among other chamber-sized things – so yes, *the* John Adams… a nice chap.
Ruth Underwood at LA Phil!
I was able to attend the concert and it was quite delightful. Something about Zappa at the symphony causes the typical “symphonic etiquette” to be cast aside.
Case in point – the 2 other compositions (Fog Tropes by Marshall, and US Highball by Partch) were well played and well received with polite applause. After intermission it was time for FZ. At the end of the Yellow Shark selections (which consisted of “Dog Breath Variations”-“Uncle Meat”, “Girl in the Magnesium Dress”, “Questi Cazzi di Piccione”, “Ruth Is Sleeping”, and “G-Spot Tornado”) the audience erupted into applause, cat-calls, hooting, whistling and other various and sundry vocal utterances. This did not stop until John Adams took the stage again and led the players through a 2nd production of G-Spot!
Now, to my ears, I did hear a loss of syncopation and perhaps an errant note here or there in their first attempt. This 2nd G-Spot allowed the players to really let their hair down – literally. They played with more gusto and less hesitation. There was a sense of “Whew! We got through it the first time, now let’s show this audience what we can really do!” And they did. The 2nd version was on fire – the carefully pinned-back locks of hair on the string section flew wildly as they sawed away at their instruments in absolute dizzying precision. I could hear audience members who may not have heard G-Spot before say “Wow…”, and “Oh my god…” and that just gave me chills and even made me tear up a little.
When they finished G-Spot #2 they audience erupted again and rose to their feet (most of them anyways) and the players and conductor took many additional bows.
It is at this point that I hear quite clearly Ruth Underwood, just 3 rows behind me commenting to her companions – “Now this was really AMERICAN music here tonight.” She seemed overjoyed and beaming. I refused to bother her (as much as I wanted to) and so only subjected her to eaves-dropping on her conversation!
BTW – two pianists on “Ruth Is Sleeping” also received quite an awed response from the audience. And the “Dog/Meat” opener sounded absolutely beautiful. I detected in the audience a sense of joy during that piece. I saw smiles and heard laughter during the applause following. I sincerely hope that for some concert-goers this was there first exposure to Zappa as Composer. It was an electric night that showed that when humor does belong in music the ear of the listener is gilded with something magical that spreads throughout the concert hall and makes for a feeling of camaraderie with our fellow (hu)man.
Nice story / review! Thanks!
Thanks Bálint. Would you believe: Here I am, an English major, a published author, a former ESL teacher – and I still used “there” for “their” because I was typing so excitedly. Ack!
Jake: what Bálint said! Must’ve been cool being seated so close to Ruth. I for one would have attempted to strike up a conversation with her though… 🙂
Well Jake – than you should try it in Hungarian! 😉
Two more things:
– here’s the review of the Los Angeles Times,
– I like the building of the Disney Concert Hall by (the otherwise crazy) Mr. Frank O. Gehry.
[quote comment=”8614″]It is at this point that I hear quite clearly Ruth Underwood, just 3 rows behind me commenting to her companions – “Now this was really AMERICAN music here tonight.” She seemed overjoyed and beaming. I refused to bother her (as much as I wanted to) and so only subjected her to eaves-dropping on her conversation![/quote]
From my experience, Jake, musicians and writers are generally receptive and quite generous when approached by fans (as long as they are of the respectful variety, and know when to make a quick exit once they’ve said their piece). Here are some question’s one should never ask a former Mother:
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