Gina Leishman

Composer, Multi-instrumentalist, and Singer

February 2nd, New York

Two great performances witnessed, courtesy of New York…

First, an amazing all-Beethoven concert at Alice Tully Hall, given by a period-instrument chamber orchestra from Bruges called Anima Eterna… wow… I am reminded of why we are still listening to his music 200 years later, particularly the 5th symphony, of all things, which has become so hackneyed it’s hard to listen to now – but this… what players… with the period instruments and the right scale of forces (6 1sts, 6 2nds, 5 violas, 4 cellos, 3 basses, double wwinds and brass, plus the contras, and tymp) you really hear his writing – and they played like a string quartet, as one… with a verve and commitment (and tempo!) I last heard with the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra and Dudamel… I found myself grinning like an idiot thourgh the whole thing…. they opened with the Egmont – a good way to tune (and tune into) the room (and what a great sound in there), followed by the 1st piano concerto, with the director at the keyboard of a fortepiano and about half the ensemble – gorgeous… tho’ I was curious about the fortepiano – original/repro, local/ shipped in? overall quite inspiring… but I also realise quite impossible to achieve in new york… everyone here is too busy… and it shows… this kind of music- making takes eating together, rehearsing together A LOT, focused commitment and heart… I suppose that’s why I’ve always had such a soft spot for KGC – it’s the closest I’ve ever had to a committed “family” of musicians – the years of shared experience tell in the doing of it… witness the gig at Westbeth last week, which turned out to be a particularly special evening, for that very reason…. also a good room to play, and a very nice turn-out, including Roswell Rudd, a cohort of my heroine, Carla Bley…

Second, later that same week, a screening of Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the National… I’m not a fan per se of televised theater or opera – I believe in the live experience, and I hate being forced to watch a close-up when I’d rather be watching the stage – but this was something else… not only the acting but the cinematography was superlative… loved all the regional accents in the casting.., and Benedict…. never really liked him when he first hit the public eye, found his image disconcerting, but he is so fucking intelligent he has won me over hook line and sinker…

And then there’s the ongoing presidential election circus… Iowa gave us Hilary & Bernie neck-to-neck, and Trump screaming about Cruz and election fraud… christ, what a circus indeed…how are we going to survive until November, let alone after the fact?? Growing potatoes in menorca looks ever more enticing…

We’ve had one giant snow storm, followed shortly thereafter by 60 degree thaw… global warming? what’s that?