A Classic Encounter With A Train

Like in Honegger’s piece, you actually feel the sensation of movement. Different Trains was composed in 1988. Reich is one of the leading minimalist composers. I’ve seen him in performance and actually got to interview him years ago. One of my heroes. Radiohead shares my passion for Reich’s work. Big fans. And Reich now loves Radiohead’s music. In fact, he has agreed to rework two Radiohead songs: Everything In Its Right Place and Jigsaw Falling Into Place. He’s not going to score them for a string arrangement. He is going to use them to construct a new work. Can’t wait!!!!! Radiohead actually used the train metaphor in a chilling video for Fast Track.

It’s quite a journey from Thomas the Tank Engine to this Radiohead piece. The train, machines, and other tools of the industrial age improved our quality of life, but at a cost. Do we lose our soul in the machine? This question has inspired artists of every format and genre, including Pink Floyd.

That evening’s concert was the world debut of Mason Bates’ work that involves the sound of energy. Alternative Energy. Mason went to Fermilab looking for the sounds of energy. Well energy does not make a sound, but he found a lot of sounds he used in this piece. While the CSO played his composition he played his laptop computer like an organ, adding these sounds to the mix. Amazing work and quite well received.

I don’t have a clip of the final work, since it was the premiere last week, but his performance with the You Tube Symphony Orchestra gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

So we went from 20th century trains into the future. Hats off to Bates, and to Muti and the rest of the folks at the CSO for supporting new music. This weekend you can see a new commissioned piece by Anna Clyne. I love this city where you can see Buddy Guy at Legends, and then go less than a mile to see a world class orchestra perform works by Cesar Franck and a world premiere of new music. My kind of town Chicago is.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1219852233 Katie A. Jones

    Yikes, Terri!!! No Ellington’s “Take The ‘A’ Train”?!? (Hmmmm. You dig Ellington, right? He was fascinated with symphonic music, too…) Anyway, great fitting many train references into one blog. LOVE that LOL Travel Wisconsin Snowball Symphony!! Not sure why it got crammed in with trains, but don’t care. Love the way your mind works!! And yep, this is our kind of town, Chicago is!!

    Mason Bates’ work is fascinating, with computers gaining increasing momentum as primary vehicles of future symphonic composition & presentation. Don’t think traditional instruments & human voices will ever disappear from music, but like Walter/Wendy Carlos (“Switched-On Bach”) did with the Moog synth in the late 60’s (along with The Beatles, of course!!), computer generated music widens horizons on what is possible. While energy may not make a sound per se, I believe the universe does emit a subtle but omnipresent radio background symphony to which human music responds. Personally, I think it’s probable that one day humans will interpret the universe musically via computers that will deliver one heck of an “out of this world” Global Premier. Computers may someday let us hear the music of the stars & allow us to broadcast our response to the cosmos. Wonder if trains will still be around then?

    — Katie A. Jones, Aurora, IL (BackbeatChicago@gmail.com)

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