While others listening to classical music may try to appreciate its finer points or focus on getting inside the composer’s head, I just like the way it sounds, which leaves my brain free to wander during concerts.
Some day I might pick up a copy of Classical Music for Dummies, cowritten by David Pogue, whom I usually only think about as Techno Claus on CBS Sunday Morning, when I think about him at all, but who also is a monthly columnist for Scientific American.
But, until then, I think about things like the different shades of varnish on the cellos used in the Chicago Civic Orchestra’s terrific concert, which led me to an applied physics article on ‘the importance of the vibro-mechanical properties of varnish, its chemical composition, thickness and penetration into wood.”
It wasn’t so much during Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Robert Chen’s brilliant violin solo at Fourth Presbyterian Church, but rather after, that I began thinking about the space itself, when Rush Hour Concerts Artistic Director Anthony Devroye, who filled in on viola with the Chen Family Quartet that day told a couple of us who had trouble seeing from the back that the quartet didn’t use the stage because the asymmetrically curved wall behind it caused acoustic problems – more science.
No science entered my head during the Dame Myra Hess concert, which featured the music of Charlie Chaplin. Quint and Aznavoorian closed with Chaplin’s Smile, from Modern Times, which reminded me of Jimmy Durante singing Make Someone Happy at the end of Sleepless in Seattle, which reminded me of its screenwriter and director Nora Ephron, who was an answer on Jeopardy this week.
In the immortal words of The Statler Brothers’ classic (not classical) Flowers on the Wall (I counted 12 on my guest bathroom wall), “Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do.”