More Than Just About the National
When I first learned about the Music Now Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio I bought my tickets because of The National. I wanted to see them play with a full orchestra behind them. From the very beginning though you knew that it would be so much more than just the one band. We started off our evening by going upstairs for what we thought was going to be a musical conversation. I guess that is normally what happens before a show there. What we witnessed was some great music. Yuki Numata Resnick wowed us with her violin. She started off the day with a work of Bryce Dessner which is fitting because he is a member of The National, and the force behind the festival. She then brought up her husband Kyle Resnick to play a piece with her. Nico Muhly then joined her to perform “Drones for Violin.” This was an interesting piece as the piano and violin would take turns making ambient noise while the other performs a portion of the piece. The pre show concert was finished with James McVinnie giving a short piano recital. Before the start of the second night Timo Andres performed a piano recital after both Caroline Shaw and Richard Reed Parry talked about composing music. During that composing talk Caroline was distracted a bit by the feedback of her microphone. She thought it made a pleasant noise in B-flat. That kind of struck home with me as I get distracted by beautiful light falling on a person sometimes. It was a cool moment of the little talk for me.
Loving the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Over the course of the two nights Louis Langree and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed beautifully. When they were the center of attention they were fantastic, and they backed the other acts brilliantly. I think that they were best playing the work of Edgard Varese. I had not really known much about Varese before the start of the weekend, but now I have a new addition to my playlist. I hear a lot of Varese in some contemporary work already on my playlist.
Caroline Shaw Debuts ‘Lo’
The Music Now festival is all about sharing the work of artists. Caroline Shaw is the youngest person to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for music, and I think she is one that we will hear from for a long time to come. Her new piece called ‘Lo’ was beautiful. As I did often during the performances I wondered how I would ever find a recording of this in the future. I would love to hear it again. On Saturday night Daniel Bjarnason premiered a piece ‘Collider.’ It was fantastic as well, and I would love to hear them both again. I think that this festival would be perfect to have a CD of down the road. From what I can tell they just issued one CD from of the best performances of the first ten years. I hope that they issue something from just this show with all of these great performances on it.
Lanzendorf Wows the Crowd at the Intermission
During the intermission Saturday night a band called Lanzendorf performed out in the lobby. Early on in the performance I was still in the main hall, but I thought I recognized the sound. When I walked out into the lobby I saw Scott and Bryan Devendorf from The National with Ben Lanz playing. The light was not good out in the lobby, but I made my way to the front of the crowd and made a couple of photos.
Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly Perform Planetarium
The main performance of night four of the Music Now Festival was some selections from Planetarium. Planetarium was the work of Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, and Sufjan Stevens. I was impressed with the voice of Sufjan Stevens. He really was the star of this segment of the night. It seemed as if everyone around him was just complimenting his fantastic voice. I have not heard much of Sufjan’s work, but that will change after Saturday night.
More on The National with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
The main draw for us was to see The National perform with a full orchestra behind them. We knew that the set would be short, but in the end it was a little longer than I thought it would be. They played six songs which are listed below:
This is the Last Time
I Need My Girl
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks
Fake Empire (Encore)
Both ‘I Need My Girl’ and ‘Fake Empire’ were performed without the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra backing them. From what I read prior to the show I wonder if they were added to give the fans who came to see them a little more for their money. It was a great show though capping off a great night. The highlight for me as I said a couple of days ago though was hearing Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks performed with the orchestra.
I Even Was Able to Play During the Festival
As we walked into Music Hall Saturday night a young woman with a violin came up to us. She played a little on her violin, and then asked if I wanted to try it. I gave it a go, and I was not quite up to par. I think my chair with the orchestra would have been off stage. It is by far my favorite instrument to hear when they play onstage so it was fun to give it a try. I think that this is a great way to show what this festival was all about though. It was about bringing the music to the people. I walked away with a greater appreciation for the music as well as a desire to come back to Cincinnati next year to see what they have in store for us then.