Much of our musical and artistic journey begins with stepping outside of our comfort zone. This has occurred several times in my life, many times enjoyable, many times confusing, but always richer for the experience.
Like most teens, I enjoyed rock and roll music. But when confronted with attending a classical pianist’s concert in San Francisco, I balked at first. But my honor society advisor practically demanded that I attend the concert of the world’s most famous pianist, Artur Rubenstein. It was transformational, both for its formal introduction to classical music, and for sitting through the concert wearing a suit!
I cannot say the same for my introduction to opera. I just thought it was a waste of time to listen to music sung in Italian. Though the music and limited choreography were beautiful and soulful, I just could not make a connection. It remains so to this day, perhaps my loss! Would you believe my little hometown produced an opera singer, who went on to fame with the San Francisco Opera? And I ended up meeting her some years later!
But my response to ballet was as funny as it was shocking. Someone gave us tickets to the San Francisco Ballet. We reluctantly went, after having argued over whether to go, dine in the City, and otherwise give up a perfectly nice evening. As soon as the dancers appeared, and twinkled across the stage, we almost broke out in a laugh!!! Such was my level of understanding of the ballet, its artistic interpretation and message.
Modern dance was a slightly better experience, though equally confounding to this country boy.
Fortunately for me, my introduction to fine art and museums was more guided, both from friends and high school trips to the museums of San Francisco. I had a college girl friend, who introduced me to the Impressionists. And I ended up taking a “History of Modern Art” class during a summer session. It certainly made my first trip to Europe a more enriching trip.
But the exposure has taken me to great places: Royal Albert Hall (above), the Marinsky Theater, Carnegie Hall, The Concertgebouw (above), Red Rocks, Sistine Chapel, the Rijksmuseum, the Louvre, the van Gogh, Musee’ d’Orsay, the British Museum, Tate Modern, and National Gallery in London, The Winter Palace Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Met and Guggenheim in NYC.
I love the Symphony, whether in San Francisco, London, DC, or St. Petersburg. The opera and ballet, maybe not. And the museums, I am strongly partial to paintings of the Impressionists.
Oh, and don’t forget the tango in Buenos Aires!!!
Certainly, and as my travel buddy, Mr. Mike and I often say to each other on our adventures around the world, “not bad for two country boys from the Valley!”