Cultural Reverence v. Cultural Relevance

I haven’t written in a while. Practicum swallowed me whole, but I did collect things to write about. Most pretentiously, I managed to go to a ballet and the symphony within two weeks of each other and I have thoughts about them.

I like culture-y stuff, and I have very cultured friends and relations who gave me tickets to two very different cultural events this month: La Sylphide by the National Ballet of Canada, and the New Creations Festival put on by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Both were wonderful for different reasons.

The New Creations Festival was challenging, yet weirdly accessible: dated but also brand new. Three pieces total were presented. Water, by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead, Knocking at the Hellgate, by Brett Dean, and a festival remix by Scratch Bastid. Yup. I would listen to Water over and over and over again. It was everything I wanted from the festival. Drone-y, complex, evocative. Relevant. I got a feeling from it that I can only express by comparing it to La Sylphide.

To be fair, La Sylphide is old, the oldest ballet still on the performance circuit. The ballet is painstakingly romantic with bourrees and entrechat-quatres all over the stage. It’s execution was as flawless a dress rehearsal as I have ever seen, but I was holding back giggles the entire time. It was gorgeous, and technically impressive, but so … silly?

I felt during Water, that I was falling into some chasm of New Music along with everyone in the theatre. I felt alienated from La Sylphide. I should disclose that I know something about dance, and nothing about music, so I could not approach La Sylphide with beginner’s eyes. But I think that even if I had approached the two with the same background knowledge I would have had the experience.

This is a call for relevant high-art. MORE of it. This is also an unfinished essay. MORE on art later, back to writing the things I’m supposed to be writing.