Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

And then there was music


The Ann Arbor Symphony playing in Hill Auditorium on a beautiful Friday night in Ann Arbor. Those of you that have experienced it know what I mean without me coming up with the words. Those of you who have never been so lucky, I’m sorry, I don’t have the words to adequately describe it.

But I’ll try.

It was opening night of the new season last Friday, a new season in so many ways. Our first evening since the beginning of covid when we could choose to attend without wearing a mask. The first time hearing a beautiful piece by Carlos Simon. The first time pianist Inon Barnatan performed with the Ann Arbor Symphony. And the first night Ann Arbor Symphony’s new Music Director, Earl Lee, conducted this brilliant group.

It was all stellar.

Sometimes when a contemporary piece of music is on the program my husband and I will look at each other in trepidation. We must be old school because if the work is full of dissonance and freakish rhythms we don’t always understand it. So this time, as we were listening the the preconcert lecture and they invited the composer onstage to discuss his piece we glanced at each other and sighed.

But we were wrong.

Carlos Simon’s This Land is beautiful. Sure there were moments of discord, it was written, after all, about immigration and the conflict it often creates in America. But listen to it, just under 10 minutes of beautiful and interesting music. I think you’ll fall in love with it just like we did.

Next on the program was Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. I don’t think you can go wrong with Rachmaninoff, but this was beyond anything I could have imagined. I was lucky enough to be sitting where I could see pianist Inon Barnatan’s hands. Or if I’m honest, not see his hands, they were moving so fast. He was simply wonderful and obviously having so much fun playing the piece. His enthusiasm was infectious and the audience fell in love all over again. In fact we were all on our feet applauding even as the last note faded.

I wish you could see and listen to him do this work, but since I couldn’t find any video of him playing it, watch and listen to it here, the pianist is Anna Fedorova, and the camera angle gives you great views. This one is about 25 minutes. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, put your feet up and enjoy! There’s a part of it, near the end that you’ll recognize. And if you ever get the opportunity to hear this piece or see Inon Barnatan play anything, just do it!

After intermission we heard Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. To be honest, I was so happy with the first half of the concert I didn’t need to hear more, but I’m glad there was more. The music was beautiful, the symphony was responsive and our new Music Director was fully engaged in it all. We are so lucky to have Earl Lee conducting. He very obviously loves music, the musicians and his audience. I’m betting he’s going to love Ann Arbor too.

Thank you Carlos Simon and Inon Barnatan, and welcome to Earl Lee and his family! It was a beautiful night of firsts and I feel lucky to have been there.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

21 thoughts on “And then there was music

  1. I completely understand your reticence concerning contemporary music. I go in with one eye closed, shoulders shrugged tight and head turned, in protection 🙂 . I don’t know why contemporary equals discordant but it often does. I went through your link bit by bit and will be listening to it fully a little later because I opened the other eye, let my shoulders drop and tilted my head in interest 🙂

    And no, you cannot go wrong with Rachmaninoff and this piece especially.
    What a perfect evening!


  2. I listened to Carlos Simon’s This Land – yes, there was some discord, but it was not raging, ear busting discord. I quite enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to go see the Boston Symphony all of the time (I’d get seasons tickets), but it has been years. And I did chose to see new music as often as possible – if the had a debut that ear, you can be sure I was there! Anyway, sounds like a wonderful program.


    • Earl Lee, our new Music Director is currently Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony! I don’t know if he’s continuing that position as well as being Music Director for us in Ann Arbor or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The BSO is a huge deal, so I am sure it would be hard to give up a position, but, then, being the Music Director is also a big deal… James Levine was a huge name in the opera world when he came in as the BSO’s Music Director (the time period I used to attend) and he still kept a position at the NY Met Opera, at least for a while, so possible Earl Lee will keep the position as a sideline as he develops as a full-fledged Music Director.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I imagine he would. Though Ann Arbor is a big deal, it’s not Boston. So he’d want to make sure this is what he wants, and that it’s what he thought it would be. Ann Arbor is going to love him, that’s for sure.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely way to spend an evening. Live music played by an orchestra tends to make all compositions sound great. Lucky you to have been there.


  5. Sounds like an amazing time. We are all experiencing new first of sort. last night my wife and I attended a county fair and walked the stalls of cattle, sheep, and goats as well as taking in the many exhibits and partaking a pork chop and chicken dinner. It was a blast. Good to be normal again. Peace.


    • We used to love to go to our county fair, it’s just up the road from where we live. Then covid. So we haven’t gone, I’m not even sure there’s been one. But next summer I hope we can visit the cows and pigs and chickens and fair food again!


  6. Wonderful evening Dawn. I am with you when it comes to discordant music, I did take a listen and found it lovely too!


  7. It sounds like a magical evening, Dawn. We went on Friday evening to listen to some live music. Not classical (more blues and r&b), but wonderful even so.


  8. How splendid! I know what you mean about “contemporary” music — typically, it’s just not my cup of tea. But you’ve piqued my interest with this selection, so I’m over to follow the link and see what one fails to see when one’s mind is tightly closed!


  9. I will listen to the music, every note of it. But I have to say that my heart melted as soon as I read your very first words, Dawn. You said you don’t have the words, but by gosh, when I read the very first words you wrote, without even knowing exactly what they were about, my heart melted. Obviously, the message was being sent, even in typed words. I don’t know how that happens, but I don’t really know how music talks to us either … but it does. Ok, gotta go listen to the links you included. Thank you! 🙂


  10. I like old time rock and roll.
    Everyone has music they like!


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