All better now, and video games at the symphony

March 2, 2007

Whatever it was that started manifesting itself on Sunday, I finally got my requisite “stay home” illness of the season. This one hit my stomach, and I ended up staying home from work on Monday. Fortunately, SciFi had an X-Files marathon, though I started feeling guilty about my relative slothfulness after about five episodes. I made it to work on Tuesday, though I still had mild symptoms. This partially explains why I have gone almost a week without new postings.

On the upside, Diane got a new iPod (30 GB U2 Special Edition, with video), which meant that I finally got her vintage 20 GB U2 Special Edition from 2004. She jumped on the MP3 bandwagon before I did, so it’s only fair. With the help of a cassette adapter, I can finally listen to music of my own choosing to and from work. My Camry’s CD player died prematurely in June, so I have subsisted on NPR, the Dallas classical station, or nothing while commuting. Diane also happened to be out of town during most of my illness, so I hooked up the iPod adaptor to the bedroom stereo Sunday night and blasted various pieces of music to aid my recovery. At one point, I got some otherworldly feedback on an opera aria, which I account to a combination of my illness and the high volume settings on both iPod and stereo.

Like my last posting, not much related to librarianship. However, my perusing of various websites for Texas operas and orchestras led me to something interesting in relation to video games (a hot topic vis a vis our role as cultural custodians, and our contributions to education). In July, the Houston Symphony will perform a concert that contains music from video games. As has become the trend in some venues, the concert will include “appropriate” video projections. In this instance, the projections will come from the games themselves.

I have ambivalent feelings about this trend. Personally, I prefer to conjure my own images while listening to the music. Since I have personal experience from the older Nintendo games, but none from the newer ones, I would likely treat myself as a guinea pig. I would probably close my eyes, and conjure up my own personal associations between the music and my own thoughts; such associations may be visual or aural.

The Houston Symphony is no stranger to projections during concerts. They recently performed Gustav Holst’s The Planets with celestial projections from NASA (appropriate for Houston), and they plan on doing Richard Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie next season with visuals portraying a mountain ascent and descent. Again, I’m not sure what to think about it. I can understand arguments in favor of using one’s imagination, as well as those who find that the visuals make the music seem more “real.” But, as in my case, I might just close my eyes if I prefer to let my imagination wander (though those who worry about “appearances” might have concerns that others will think they’re sleeping). However, in the case of Sergei Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, it seems more than appropriate for an orchestra to accompany projected visuals. In fact, Prokofiev wrote the music specifically for Sergei Eisenstein’s 1938 film of the same name. A few years ago, the Houston Symphony gave some concerts where they accompanied the film.

Whatever one thinks about the idea of a video game music concert, the previous one did excellent business. With such concerts having the potential for huge popularity, perhaps gamers would see the distance between video games and “high culture” as artificial. Now to convince more stolid concert-goers.

On a more self-centered note, my wanderings of nearby symphony and opera websites brought me great news. My favorite opera will be playing in Dallas next season! Of course, with opera, one cannot just close their eyes… unless they’re bored out of their skulls. This one should offer no such problems, however.

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