Going to Your First Performance
A lot of people would love to go to see the symphony, but just don’t know where to start. The symphony is a very complex thing, and the music that you will hear will vary greatly from one group’s performance to the next. Even the same piece of music can be presented in greatly diversified ways. This can make choosing the right show to go see even more daunting of a task.
The goal here isn’t to tell you what the right performance for you to go and see is, but rather give you a couple things to think about when choosing your first show. If you’ve always been curious about the symphony but have never taken that first step to go and see a performance, this is a great place to start.
First, consider what the group that you will be going to see is. For example, seeing the Boston Pops or the New York Philharmonic Orchestra will be a very different experience than seeing a local college’s symphony performing. Seeing a professional group will have a higher cost associated with it, but the quality of the music will be much better. If you want to see the best, this is definitely something to consider. Collegiate groups can be great, though. If this is an option and you’re looking for a low cost show, checking out what your local institution of higher learning has to offer can be a good starting point.
While there is clearly a difference between groups, the song or symphonies that will be played also make a difference. Starting with an acclaimed classic can be helpful. Beethoven’s 5th or 9th Symphonies are both masterpieces and quite popular, even if you do not have an ear for classical music. The 5th Symphony contains one of the most universally known melodies ever, while the 9th Symphony contains the well-known “Ode to Joy” chorus about 3/4ths of the way into the performance. Either of these can be a great starting point.
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Mozart’s 25th Symphony is also widely regarded as one of the best performance pieces of all-time. His Symphony in G Minor also has stood the test of time to become one of the most popular symphonic pieces ever to be written.
A lot of people are already familiar with the name of Beethoven and Mozart, but there are also many great pieces written by others. Brahms, Wagner, Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky have also become incredibly popular amongst fans of classical music. Some performances, such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, are especially popular around the holidays. Depending on what time of year you are planning on going to see the symphony, you may be able to go and see one of these themed shows.
Some people prefer their classical experience to be a lot more modern. If this describes you, then you still have a huge number of opportunities. Judd Greenstein and John Corigliano are two of the most highly regarded modern composers. And if you’re looking for something that moves beyond the stereotypes of traditional classical sounds, both are deeply influenced by other genres of music. For example, Corigliano’s Symphony #1 could easily be mistaken at times for the soundtrack to a horror movie. It is equally intense and beautiful when delivered right. If you are a fan of action, the performance of this piece will be a one of a kind experience—even if you’re not a fan of classical music!
Depending on where you live, you have a number of choices. Living in or near a major city will allow you to experience different types of musical performances, but your geography shouldn’t hinder you. If you’re curious about the symphony and you’re not sure where to start, head over to YouTube and scroll through the thousands of performances that have been recorded live and posted to the web. You’re bound to discover something that you will love.
What about you? What tips or ideas do you have to help someone get the most out of their first symphonic performance? Let us know below.