An approximate rendering of what an Emery award might look like -- because who doesn't
want to have my badly-photoshopped face sitting on their mantelpiece for the rest of time?
EDIT: Things got so busy that I'm just getting around to this post now. I guess it makes sense to keep with the trend of always being three weeks behind this summer?
I saw too many amazing, abnormal, and downright wacky things this summer not to do an awards post. So here goes nothing:
Pianist Conrad Tao wore a black t-shirt with black capri chinos to his performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time at Bargemusic. Baritone Davóne Tines beat the Caramoor heat by rocking a black suit with no shirt underneath.
BEST OUTFIT (NON-CONCERT BLACK): Aisslinn Nosky
At ChamberQUEER, violinist Aisslinn Nosky stood out from the fashionable performer core with a black velour tailcoat alongside shamrock-green velcro sneakers.
MOST EFFECTIVE INTERMISSION COSTUME CHANGE: Vivica Genaux
Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux started her concert at Caramoor in a colorful dress with a four-foot train; after intermission, she returned to the stage in the brightest white pantsuit I've ever seen.
MOST OBSCURE INSTRUMENT: the douçaine
Piffaro's concert at the MET Cloisters was studded with weird baroque instruments, but the douçaine was the only one I hadn't heard of. Turns out it's like the bassoon's less useful French cousin.
CONCERT MOST SIMILAR TO AN ACID TRIP (NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW):
Chunky in Heat literally had a talking tree who introduced himself by describing two flies having sex. I don't think that happens in real life (but correct me if I'm wrong). Barrie Kosky's Magic Flute was only marginally closer to how life actually works; the whole performance just felt like one big leg-filled hallucination.
MOST AGGRESSIVE HEAD-BOBBING: Vijay Iyer Sextet
My neck was sore afterwards.
FEWEST FUCKS GIVEN: Pierre Hantaï
I saw him outside smoking a cigarette 15 minutes before the concert. And then at intermission, when the entire audience crowded around to record him tuning the DiMenna Center's harpsichord, he just kind of rolled his eyes and continued with his business.
BIGGEST EYEROLL: George Li
After a beautiful Liszt/Schumann encore that would have made the perfect end to the concert, the audience forced George Li onstage to play La campanella, the most overused virtuoso piece alive. The audience murmured in delight. Li most certainly did not.
BEST FAMOUS PERSON ENCOUNTER: Vilde Frang
Because she was the only one I talked to. Because I'm a wimp.
BEST ONSTAGE STORY: Orrin Evans's Chia Pet (as told by Reid Anderson of The Bad Plus)
Reid Anderson's improvised bit-du-jour was about the Chia Pet that inspired Orrin Evans to write his song "Commitment." He also may or may not have been high at the time. I mean, who can blame him -- it was the second set of the night!
BEST PERFORMANCE OF A PIECE I HAD NEVER HEARD BEFORE AND DON'T CARE TO HEAR AGAIN: Teatro Nuovo playing Donizetti's Symphony in e minor
Yes, excavate obscure pieces. But for the love of god, only excavate the good ones!
MOST MEMORABLE CONCERT THAT I HAVE SINCE FORGOTTEN: NY Phil playing Corigliano's First Symphony
It was a lovely performance. But it was, like, concert #3. After the novelty had worn off. I still remember it fondly, but it was just overwritten by all the other great stuff I saw this summer.
PERFORMANCE THAT EVERYONE 65+ LOVED AND EVERYONE 65- HATED: Stonewall
There were a lot of old gays in the audience who were 200% convinced they had just seen the third coming of Christ. The younger crowd scoffed, wishing they had gone to see Der Rosenkavalier instead for their fill of soprano-soprano relationships.
BEST MOTIVATIONAL SPEECH: Vijay Iyer
"The fight...is....far. from. over. Which coincidentally is the name of our newest album!" TL;DR Fuck Donald Trump, but without saying those actual words.
BIGGEST DRAMA QUEEN: Brian Giebler
I understand the red-black double-sided sequin jacket. But you did NOT need to have a breakdown on the conductor's podium. 10/10 excellent entertainment.
BIGGEST COINCIDENCE: Cavalieri at St. Thomas
The bass section leader of the St. Thomas choir (he also played the small role of Consiglio)? Yeah, he teaches at Yale now. And I'm in his seminar. Emotions and Sacred Music in the Early Modern World. We're just niche like that.
ASSHOLE OF THE SUMMER: The Guy Who Yelled Bravo Too Early
I said it once, and I'll say it again. FUCK. YOU.
MOST FEELINGS: Kinhaven
You can catch me live-streaming for their annual fundraiser on Monday. I hate fundraising. But I love Kinhaven more than I hate fundraising.
BEST AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: Lacunae
Apparently, discussing your feelings with the other seven (7) people in the audience is in vogue now. Who knew?
CUTEST: Wadada Leo Smith's Grandkids
Wadada doesn't exactly deal in children's music, but his grandkids -- three or four of them aged between 2 and 12 -- were all sitting right in the front row. Part of his between-the-pieces intermission was talking to them exactly as a grandpa should -- "how was the drive? how was your day at school?"
BEST ONSTAGE NAP: Camille Bertault
Her band thought they had seen every crazy trick in her book. And then, for the final verse of one of her pieces, she feigned drunkenness and slowly laid down onstage. I don't think I've ever seen a drummer look more confused in my entire life.
ANGSTIEST: David Lang's prisoner of the state
A world in which David Lang's compositions are not angsty is a world in which I don't want to live.
BIGGEST SUMMER REGRET: Not Talking to Caroline Shaw
Yeah, I'm still not over it. Supposedly she got ahold of that blogpost. And then I got back to school and next thing I know I'm conducting one of her pieces with the Yale Glee Club. I don't believe in god, but someone is taunting me.
MOST WORTH THE TRIP: Davóne Tines and Dover Quartet at Caramoor
The look on Davóne Tines's face at the "ha NOPE!" moment of Dover Beach was alone worth the train ride. At the end of the concert, I would have happily sat through the whole thing again.
BEST CONCERT I SAW THIS SUMMER: Quartet for the End of Time at Bargemusic
Holy shit. That's all I could say. That's all I can say.
(Runner-up: ChamberQUEER Opening Concert)
MY FAVORITE CONCERT I SAW THIS SUMMER: ChamberQUEER Opening Concert
I have never left a concert with my heart more full than when I left ChamberQUEER. The NYC summer music scene's best-kept secret, and the thing I will miss most if I end up anywhere but NYC next summer. I'm smiling just thinking about it.
(Runner-up: Quartet for the End of Time at Bargemusic)