Monday, February 7, 2011

RSO Metro Collection: frontier music

Several weeks ago, I attended a Richmond Symphony concert in its Metro Collection series, which brings a smaller orchestra (e.g. 10 violins instead of 22; 1 horn instead of 5) to venues in the counties surrounding  Richmond. My TD review is here, and it tells you all I'm going to say about the music except, dear Antonio, please forgive me-- by calling your piece "fluff," I didn't mean to imply it was disposable.

A few words about the space, though. The concert was held in a gym at Kingsway Community Church in Midlothian. At least I think it was a gym, because there were basketball court lines on the fake-wood floor, but no evidence of nets. You can sort of tell by this photo from the church's website that the room is shaped like a fan. It felt too wide for the size of the orchestra. And I can't have been much closer than most seats in the Carpenter Theatre.

At intermission, I chatted with the man sitting behind me, who said this was the closest concert to his home he had ever been to. I had been not-quite-grumbling about having to drive so far to it. I guess if the world isn't going to revolve me, it might as well benefit someone else along the way.

In fact, I really do like the Metro Collection concept, both because it invites a different sort of programming and because it puts the orchestra in settings that many people feel are more inviting or familiar. But I really hate the universal lighting that usually comes with these alternative territories. I don't care what the musicians wear--although I appreciate a subdued uniformity--and I don't care when people clap--as long as we do it alertly-- but please, please, at least dim the house lights so I can feel like the music is showing me something beyond myself. And, more realistically, so I'm less likely to be distracted by my surroundings.