And now part 3 :
It started with a suite of folk songs and dances, light-hearted, happy music celebrating spring or harvest time: brooks murmured, birds sang, smiling country girls danced easing the mostly Italian public into a different landscape, Hu Xiaowen’s bamboo flute soared with the swallows and voiced the dreams and hopes of the villagers .
afterwards we moved through space and time, sampling choice morsels from the different musical traditions of the ancient empire: pieces for ceremony, for the ancestors, for the glory of the emperor and for the private enjoyment of poets drunk with wine and inspiration; again the flute was our key to a time of history, myth and fable.
The intermission came and most of the public took the chance to move a bit, strolling to join friends and acquaintances spotted in the crowd. “ Care to drink something?” I asked my friend.
"Yes, thanks” she glanced at the crowd milling about “ Better go now, before they realize all that chatting has made them thirsty”.
The foyer was still half empty but a while later, as we stood there sipping our white wine, most of the spectators came in, in twos or threes, crowding the bar in a rush to get served before the concert started again. I caught snatches of conversation , comments almost drowned in the hubbub, there was tension in the air, a sense of suspense not unlike the pressure of a thunderstorm building in summer, Lucia looked at me: “ He has built a lot of expectation, hope he can fulfill it”. The lights in the foyer dimmed, I set down my glass, moving towards the entrance of the auditorium: “ We will know soon”.
The first piece of the second half was a movie score suite, music most of us had heard without really paying attention while following the struggles of Li Mubai or the tale of the nameless one, almost all, by now, could recognize the echoes and the twists of tradition into the modern pieces. We started to feel at ease convinced that that was it, we had got what was there to get, we were ready, we understood, and was this everything?
And at that point, when the last note had vanished and the applause had died down, the Maestro went to exchange a few words with his musicians, then he nodded towards the backstage door and, while the choir filed on stage among the startled murmurs of the audience, he came back to the podium and turned towards us.
“Signore e signori,” he announced in a mellow baritone and perfect Italian “ we have prepared a surprise for you tonight: the very first public execution of my newest work, the one-act opera Lullaby for the Lost Ones, in a concerto performance” And with that, while we stared at each other and at the programs in our hands, and the cultural attaché of the People’s Republic in the royal box dispatched a few people to find out what was happening, Hu Xiaowen gave the musicians their attack and the orchestra started playing.
Today's episode is a bit short, but this was the best place for a pause. You'll see why with the next instalment. :)
Allow me tonight to wish you the best possible Christmas, may it be as you hope.