A well-known line sung by Counting Crows came to mind when I first stepped out of my car. You know how they say that they “paved paradise and put up a parking lot”? Well, the New World Symphony did quite the opposite.
In the heart of the city, nestled between Miami’s infamous nightclubs and massive hotels is the orchestral academy’s new home. Next to the building used to stand an old city parking lot used for guests visiting Lincoln Road. In its place now lays a green carpet of grass, and quite the park for all visitors alike. It’s a comforting feeling to know that an escape from the fast-pace city life is closer than you think.
Among the events held in its opening week, the symphony played a concert last night at 7:30 in the New World Center. The building sure looked like a million bucks, 534 million bucks to be precise. While it’s sleek design matched the vibe of the city, it was the park where free live” wallcasts” will be offered to the public that was the focus of last night’s performance.
As the show was getting ready to begin and the temperature continued dropping well down into the 40s, it was the perfect night for keeping warm while enjoying the show from the park. Blankets were set out and families and couples alike sat huddled, waiting in anticipation. Many even brought along man’s best friend to enjoy the show and the company of all the other dogs present.
As soon as I sat down on my blanket it was so easy to forget where I was. I felt like I was in an old American movie- watching movies out in the park and drinking my latte to keep warm. With an enormous projector and speakers that run along both sides of the park, it was difficult for me to be anything but immersed in the whole experience.
And then it began.
As Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the orchestra through three works, it brought back childhood memories of watching one of my favorite Disney movies of all time- Fantasia. The moment the orchestra began to play I remembered Mickey Mouse putting on his sorcerer’s hat and taking complete control over his. The bow of every violin went across the instrument at the same time. Watching it was nothing short of hypnotizing.
The program began with “Wagner: Overture to The Flying Dutchman” which was a beautiful piece played flawlessly by the fellows. The theater and park alike both grew quiet and almost looked like they were in a trance while the music played out of the 167-speaker sound system that filled the entire park.
The second piece, a new work by Adès titled “Polaris” played accompanied by a video created by Tal Rosner. The video ultimately told the story behind the music and the images went perfectly with the music it accompanied. Images of the wild ocean and its angry waves crashing played as the drums and cymbals were played loudly. The music mellowed down as images of two women walking a stretch of shoreline appeared on the screens behind the musicians. It was hard to image only having one without the other, since they came together so seamlessly.
The third piece topped the other two. Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3 really revealed to me the talent behind this group. As Mr. Tilson Thomas grew more fervent in his conducting, the musicians responded by playing just as maniacally. It looked as if they were dancing along to the notes they played, as heads swayed side to side, feet tapped the ground in a mechanical manner and instruments started swaying themselves, enveloping those playing with the music that was now surrounding them.
The finale was “Fanfare for the Common Man” and the symphony did such a great job with it. With the woodwinds slurring effortlessly through their complicated note patterns, the brass blaring out their chords and the string section completing the masterpiece they created through sound, it was an experience out of the ordinary Miami activities with an infusion of culture for all to gain from.