Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Vampire Weekend’s performance at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco this past week encapsulated this perfectly as a part of their “Father of the Bride” tour.
To “pass by catastrophe,” according to urban legend, you must experience a major earthquake or other catastrophic event during your final exam warranting the university registrars to give everyone passing grades. But in the case of the Stanford band, “Pass By Catastrophe,” the phrase means exploring making music together and dropping your first extended play (EP) on Oct. 4, amidst the Stanford grind.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen how classical music interacts with the real world to represent the intricacies of a presidential visit or the struggles of a suppressed nation. Adversity is often adjacent to the process of composing great classical music, and composers have found the source of musical gold out of disunity. But…
Y’all might not have heard of MAX, but he put on a fabulous show on Saturday night.
Classical music presents itself as anomalous in a world dense with stories. Much of classical music, including symphonies like those of Mahler’s, cannot be well or fully described in narrative form, for the simple fact that there is no language involved.
That music and revolution go hand in hand shouldn’t surprise us. The rousing spirit of protest songs like “¡El Pueblo Unido” in Chile, or “Go down Moses” of the American Underground Railroad can be among the most powerful vehicles for expressing the pathos and impetus behind an uprising of the people. In today’s installment of Music + X: classical music’s perspectives on revolution.
From the earliest symphonies to operas made in the past decade, politics has been present in classical music — not only as a subject of composer’s interest, but as a force that shapes the music deemed worthy. Today, we consider two works of music: one by a Russian composer under the microscope of the 1920s Soviet Union, the other by an American composer given considerably more leeway to comment on American international politics of the 1970s.
Some performers at the music festival were unsurprising in their goodness. But other top performances came, perhaps unexpectedly, from lesser-known acts, especially ones hailing from outside the country.