Monday, July 11, 2011

Thar Be Pirates About!

This weekend we went to such a fabulous concert!  It was part of the North Carolina Symphony Summerfest Concert series, which I have blogged about previously.  The title of Saturday night's show was Pirates, and it comprised all sorts of nautical-related music.

At first, I was concerned it might be a bit too commercially-oriented, but that turned out not to be the case at all.  Yes, it did have music from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies--which, I have to admit, I was so wrong about and love although I ridiculed it prior to actually seeing the movies (that is generally true about the movies as well as the music in them).  So, yes, they are ridiculously popular and money-making movies, but that doesn't mean that Hans Zimmer's music wasn't great, because I think that it was.

But the show contained so much more than that.  It did have its show element, with songs from the movie Hook, the musical Peter Pan, and even the classic Captain Blood.  It had light operetta (The Pirates of Penzance) and Wagner's opera, The Flying Dutchman, along with some traditional sea chanties and nautical songs.  The NC Symphony did a wonderful job with all these works.

However, my son and I were particularly enthusiastic about two sets of modern compositions.  I was really struck by some songs done by a composer from Greensboro, NC, who had written a musical about North Carolina's most notorious pirate, Blackbeard.  Laurelyn Dossett got to sing two of her songs from that show, entitled Bloody Blackbeard, accompanied by the state's symphony, which I imagine is pretty much a life's ambition for a local composer.  They were great songs, and I hope they become more well known.

My son's favorite was a piece called The Last Voyage of the Currituck:  A Symphonic Odyssey, which was by Terry Mizesko, who is a member of the NC Symphony.  This six-part piece ran from the hussle-bussle of taking off, to the enthusiastic beginnings, later longing for those at home, and eventual bad end in the Bermuda Triangle, with dramatically different emotions conveyed by the talented musicians.  It was also a well-written work that I hope will gain wider renown.

But I give the NC Symphony a lot of credit for a really well-developed evening of music around this theme.  As I've stated before, I come from Washington DC, so I'm used to a high level of cultural arts in my arts, museums, theater, and musical performances.  And I don't really expect the North Carolina institutions to compete with what it is possible for, say, the Smithsonian Institution or the Kennedy Center for the Arts to do.  But I think North Carolina has been really smart about targeting the resources that it has.  So, for example, the NC Zoo has an African section and a North American section; it has restricted its scope, and does those two areas really well, rather than having a mediocre mish-mash of animals from all over the world.  Similarly, both the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Aquariums (all three of them) design their major exhibits around North Carolina environments (terrestrial or aquatic); again, this gives a logical focus to their museums, and they cover that narrower focus really well.

And so for the theme of Pirates, the Symphony found a way to focus the show on North Carolina talents and assets, including the always intriguing legends of Blackbeard.  The concert tied into the recent exhibit in the North Carolina Maritime Museum on Treasures from the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's flagship vessel that has recently been been recovered from the seabed along the North Carolina coast.

Plus, it was a lovely night, we were seeing the show with good friends, we had plenty to eat and drink, they had all kinds of pirate exhibits and activities to entertain the children, PLUS they had fireworks afterwards.  So what's not to love?

PS--Here is my son's blog post inspired by the concert.

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