Order and Chaos

Goodness, I’m sick of being sick. This cold virus has been hanging around my respiratory system for 2 and a half weeks now and tonight I have a new development – earache. Don’t you just want to kick ill health in the teeth? (Sorry – I’m having a bit of a ‘self-pity party’ (with a side order of whinging)).
Two of my favourite pastimes are listening to music and playing an instrument (voice/piano/flute). But the last couple of weeks have been particularly challenging for me in this regard. Last summer I bought tickets to hear Vasily Pretrenko conduct my favourite piece of classical music, Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto. The concert was last night. After settling myself in my seat, with a wonderful view of the stage and orchestra, in Symphony Hall, Birmingham where it doesn’t really matter how much you have paid for a ticket because the acoustics are marvelous throught the concert hall, all was well. The first piece, a selection of Grieg’s Lyrical pieces, was wonderfully serene and delicate, beautifully played by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and my lungs and sinuses were happy to cooperate with my head and heart’s desire for them to be silent and enjoy the music.
Sometimes when you are ill there seems to be another law at work that supercedes all other desires. As soon as the first chords of the Rachmaninov emerged from the silence of the expectant audience, so too did that unwelcome burn of an irritated throat invade my conscience. Not one that could be overlooked or ignored, but a demanding and aggressive customer. Thus the coughing ensued, disturbing the sufferer and all around despite water, pastiles and medication. Sorry everyone, I wanted to stop coughing as much as you all. Where are the holes in the ground when you want them to open up?
I thought I had been to hear Mahler’s Symphony no.5 as a teenager, eager to expand my musical knowledge and experience whilst studying A’ Level beyond my preference for baroque and classical periods which are ordered and predictable, I went to a few BBC Proms – I think it must have been 1990. I remember coming away from the concert reflecting that I wasn’t that keen to expand my repertoire. ‘Organised Choas’ would be my uneducated way of describing music from a period that seemed to be throwing of the conventions of the past (which I still prefer and find more comfortable, reassuring) all in the name of progress. I put Stravinsky in the same pigeonhole, but what do I know?
However, I don’t think it was Mahler 5, because last night it was Mahler 5 – and I actually enjoyed it. Or maybe I’ve changed.
So on to today, and more concert-going, this time performing. More coughing, more listening, to organised Stravinsky chaos, and…liking it. Seeing the value in things not yet comfortable, a bit new to me still. Life in my world is changing, seasons are changing. She who was small has grown big and more independent, the firebird lives and what was ordered is more chaotic, more free, and I’m learning to like it.

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