The strange joys of a live orchestral performance

CONCERT: Sydney Symphony Orchestra

A concert is a welcome chance to see people in formal dress working really hard.Credit:Alex Towle

I love classical music, but I am by no means an expert. I love Bach, Handel, Corelli, Telemann, Boccherini – anything that sounds like the melody of a BBC costume drama, basically.

I particularly like it live in concert. I like to see people in formal wear working really hard, especially the men with bow ties and white crow tails. I also love the chance, extremely rare these days, of being forced to sit for long periods of time, without speaking, without any device to distract me. I catch myself having new thoughts – brainy thoughts like “Is the cymbal guy going to fuck up like Roger in The dark side menu ? Or “If I were a classical musician, how would I style my hair? “

Recently my classical music viewing world has been immeasurably enhanced by a series of Sydney Symphony tickets. They are right next to the Sydney Opera House concert hall, practically at orchestral level.

They are cheaper than stall seats, and much better. They are better because you can see as well as hear. You can see the real faces of the crazy eyed drivers; the occasional subversive little eyeballs of the strings. You can see the generally invisible percussionists, all of whom sound as sweet as Clark Kent until they suddenly hit shit out of a drum the size of a cannibalistic pot. And you can see the long line of brass, blowing the hair of the oboes and flutes in their eyes.

The brass, of course, are also the ones who dump their saliva on the floor in dull moments. I have to admit it turns me off a bit, but these aren’t the only ones. Think about football, whatever iteration you like. Everyone spits everywhere, and you like it, right? You would love that too.

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