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The small town we live has a symphonic orchestra. Like many other traditional theatrical-art forms and groups, it struggles to survive in our consumer society and digital age, eking out its living wage by appealing to many financial contributors, such as banks and local businesses, as well as series-ticket holders. It offers five concerts a year.

Yesterday my husband and I attended the first concert of 2014-15 season for the orchestra. Possibly due to the fact that it was the first concert, quite a few empty seats were observed at both sides of mezzanine seating area. (It is always a little sad to notice such empty seats because they remind me of the demise of an esteemed theater group in Seattle a few years ago.) Nevertheless, I would say it was a special concert. Firstly, it offered a US premiere of a concerto composed by a contemporary living composer, Victor Davies, a Canadian. Secondly, the composer himself was attending the concert to answer a few questions posed by the conductor. Thirdly, the concert was for a tuba soloist (one rarely hears an extended musical piece that has a tuba player as its soloist).

Concerto for Tubameister and Orchestra which consists of three movement, “Theme and Variations,” “Waltz for Franco,” and “Sancho Panza Goes to the Bull Fight,” was very much a postmodern musical piece as concerts go. Particularly, its third movement was full of characteristics of postmodernism as articulated by Ihab Hassan in his The Postmodern Turn: it exhibited formlessness, playfulness, anarchic exuberance, and intertextuality (references to other sources). The third movement delighted the audience so much that some of them giggled at the recognizable Spanish cabaret musical tunes. When the concert ended it received a standing ovation. (This group of audience has a tendency to give standing ovations to many performances, particularly when the musical pieces are loud and energetic.) I found it quite interesting that the musical work delighted the audience in general. I wonder if this almost unanimous response to the musical score was the sign of conformity or generosity/kindness of the audience.

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