Why classical?


Who: Evin Blomberg, violin; Vardan Gasparyan, cello; Eloise Kim, piano; Julian Zheng, French horn

When: Saturday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.

Where: First Baptist Church, Three Rivers


If you have wondered what the fuss is all about concerning classical music, here’s a chance to find out for free. A generous donation from an anonymous supporter of Three Rivers’s highly acclaimed Chamber Music Series will cover the ticket cost for anyone coming to this weekend’s concert who hasn’t attended before. All you have to do is tell the person selling tickets that this is your first concert and in you go.

To pique your interest, here’s a juicy tidbit. Composer Richard Wagner and composer/pianist Franz Liszt were literally the rock stars of their era, from about 1850 until 1880. People went crazy for them. 

When Liszt and Wagner were out in public, people would tear off pieces of the celebrities’ shirts and waistcoats to take home as souvenirs. Things got so extreme for Wagner, he finally decided to protect his wardrobe by purchasing cases full of handkerchiefs which he cut with scissors into one inch squares to toss to his adoring fans, supernatural confetti.

This raises a big question. Why were Wagner and Liszt and Brahms and Chopin so popular? And that leads to an even bigger question: why are they still so admired today, over 100 years later? Why is J.S. Bach so admired, venerated even, after 260 years?

The answer lies in the music itself — in long, arching melodies that take your breath away, in a blending of instruments that creates textures and harmonies impossible to describe but mesmerizing to hear, in the amazing way entire phrases of a composition capture a recognizable emotion or state of mind.

What we now call classical music really was widely popular in its own day. Today, we call it classical mostly because it has survived for a very long time. Or at least some of it has, the best of it. 

In fact, some of our popular music today will be called “classical” 200 years from now. Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” will probably be one of them because it captures a feeling just about everyone will experience, now or in the distant future, that glorious sense of freedom when you set out to cross a horizon and know that you have everything you need and you can just keep going.

Music survives because it expresses what nearly every human feels at some point in their lives. The music that survives longest is the music that expresses these feelings best.

That’s what audience members will hear during Saturday’s concert. Music that has survived for a very, very long time. Mozart, Mendelssohn, Kreisler, and a lot more. You’ll have no trouble recognizing your own experiences in it.

For those who need tickets, they can be purchased for $12 at Mountain View Realty or at the door. Children and an accompanying adult admitted free.

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