On Saturday, March 12, 2022, a concert was held at Jones Hall in Houston, Texas, where I went. A renowned performance space in Houston, Jones Hall presents a range of musical and cultural occasions all year. One of the best orchestras in the U.S., the Houston Symphony, participated in the live show as a performer. Robert Spano, a well-known conductor who has worked with many of the best orchestras in the world, led the orchestra. Various instruments, including violins, cellos, violas, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, percussion, and a grand piano, make up the Houston Symphony (Lesiuk). The musicians are all talented and skilled, collaborating to produce a stunning and harmonious sound.
Numerous instruments used in symphony orchestras were present in the orchestra. Violins, cellos, and violas made up the string section, laying the groundwork for most compositions. Flute and clarinet players in the woodwind section gave the music a delicate and nuanced texture. The trumpets and trombones in the brass section produced a brash and strong sound (Lesiuk). Various instruments in the percussion section, including timpani, snare drums, and cymbals, gave the music rhythm and depth. Last but not least, some compositions utilized the grand piano to add a rich and intricate harmonic element.
As a music student, I have always wanted to attend a symphony orchestra concert to learn more about classical music and see how such a large ensemble performs live. I was excited to hear one of the country’s best orchestras perform works by some of history’s greatest composers. I also wanted to experience the excitement and energy of a musical concert, which cannot be captured on recordings or videos.
I had never been to a symphony orchestra concert, so this experience was new. It was an extremely moving event. The musicians’ talent and skill, as well as the music’s beauty and complexity, astounded me. I gained a fresh appreciation for the beauty and power of live performance due to the experience, which was very different from watching or listening to recordings. I appreciate that I had the chance to attend this concert, and I anticipate attending more symphony orchestra performances in the future.
The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives, Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky, and Symphony No. 5 by Prokofiev made up the concert’s three musical selections. The concert’s opening piece, The Unanswered Question, was a brief composition conducted without a baton. A solo trumpet played a series of brief phrases, followed by a small string ensemble playing lengthy, sustained chords. The minimal instrumentation enhanced the piece’s mysterious and reflective atmosphere, making it possible to hear each instrument.
The soloist for the second composition, Piano Concerto No. 1, was pianist Daniil Trifonov. This piece was more virtuosic and dynamic, highlighting the remarkable technical prowess of Trifonov’s piano playing. The brass section added a sense of grandeur to the orchestra’s rich and powerful accompaniment. The concerto’s third movement, in which Trifonov’s fingers flew across the keyboard in a blur of quick notes while the orchestra kept a steady and rhythmic pulse, was especially impressive (Lesiuk). Symphony No. 5, the last work, was the longest and most difficult to understand. It had a sizable and complex orchestration, with numerous orchestral sections playing intricate and melodic lines. With instances of intense dissonance and sections of calm and meditation, the piece had a strong sense of drama and tension. This piece featured a strong brass section that gave the overall sound a majestic and powerful quality.
Comparison to Other Performances
Although I had never seen a symphony orchestra performance before, I had listened to and watched a lot of classical music performances online. I have attended many concerts in various genres, such as jazz, rock, and pop, so I can compare this performance to others I have seen. I am, however, acquainted with classical music, having attended a few piano recitals and string quartet performances. The symphony orchestra’s performance was significantly larger and more impressive than those of concerts (Lesiuk). The number of musicians on stage was impressive, and their collective sound was incredible. I did something I had never done before, and I could comprehend the complexity of the arrangements and the skill required to execute them.
The live performance also had a certain energy and spontaneity that can only be felt in person, unlike other classical music performances I have viewed online or on recordings. I do not believe a recorded performance could ever come close to reproducing the conductor’s perception of the music and the musicians’ responses to his gestures (Lesiuk). Generally, I thought the live performance was much more unforgettable and influential than any previously recorded performance I had seen.
I will treasure my experience of attending the Houston Symphony concert for years to come. The talent showcased by each performer was astounding, and the performances were carried out with passion and accuracy. The orchestra’s sound was mesmerizing, with each instrument combining perfectly to produce a stunning and intricate harmony. The concert was particularly special because it was a live performance. The room had a palpable energy, and the audience members’ camaraderie heightened the feeling. Witnessing such a sizable group of musicians collaborating to create something stunning was amazing. As a result, I think everyone should experience a live symphony orchestra concert at least once. Seeing the Houston Symphony Orchestra perform with such artistry and talent makes me feel fortunate. I highly recommend going to a symphony orchestra concert if you enjoy classical music or the sophistication of live performance.
Lesiuk, Teresa. “The Effect of Music Listening on Work Performance.” Researchgate.net, 4 Dec. 2022.