So – I just bought my mum tickets as part of the Wordless Music Series. And I can’t recommend seeing shows at this series enough. I have been listening to mum a bit and am just blown away by how amazing they sound. So naturally, a church and mum seem a great fit! Now really …. its on to Beirut.
Monday night was a great way to start the week by heading up to the Society for Ethical Culture on the corner of Central Park West & 64th. The church is still in amazing condition (I did read it was recently refurbished) and the paintings are gorgeous. The pews are about as comfortable as pews can be, but more importantly, the acoustics are amazing. This was my second trip to this church – my first time having seen Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance.
This series is about putting together acts that we might never consider listening to. For a lot of indie fans (myself included), its not often that I’d go out and find a new classically trained artist with electronic influences. And its not that I don’t care for the music, I just don’t find myself gravitating towards that. So I look to this series to expose my horizons.
The first review I read about the Beirut show had me so disappointed with what I read, I was convinced I attended a different show. Thanks NYT for thinking outside of the box.
Colleen, a French woman who it turns out barely made it into the states thanks to our government’s efficient visa plan with turning away all these artists, was the first artist to play. She is classically trained and primarily played the cello. She was very gifted and her music was a fusion of classical and electronic. She played everything from a clarinet to wind chimes to the violin. And everything was so beautifully crafted it was hard not to drift away with the music. I had no idea what to expect coming in, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
The next artists up were Katya Mihailova (on the piano) and Colin Jacobsen (on violin). Katya came up to perform 2 songs by herself on piano. The song from Chopin was performed perfectly, her fingers flying over the keys amazing to watch. I was seated in the 3rd row on the edge and had an amazing view. Her next song – which I dont remember the title but has something to do with only the left hand – was even more impressive. With just her left hand, she played the entire song. I don’t know if anyone else would have realized it, but when it hit me that she was only playing with one hand, I was blown away. Brooklyn (where she lives) should have been proud tonight!
Katya was later joined on the stage with Colin Jacobsen. Their first piece was from Arvo Part which really played out well together. The violin accompanying the piano was just beautiful. I am a sucker for beautiful piano pieces, and I have a love affair with watching people play the piano. It takes me to a different world. The set ended with a piece from Bela Bartok and Colin asked the lovely men of Beirut to join them on stage. So 4 guys from Beirut came out with a trumpet, a cello and some other instruments. There seemed to be a bit of confusion, but by the last part of the song it came together. It was a great way to end the set and get us pumped up for Beirut.
Beirut were amazing. Zach Condon, the ever talented lead singer of Beirut, was exceptionally cool! Possibly the epitome of cool. With heavy French influences in the form of Jacques Brel, the band put on quite a show. 6 other guys filled the stage playing a variety of instruments and the lone female primarily on violin. The music which has a very Eastern European flair contained a big sound from the accordion, trumpets, violins, ukuleles and minimal drums. Guitars were barely used which was quite the nice change.
Its hard to close your eyes and imagine this band from Brooklyn, performing this Eastern European music, but this is what they do. And they do it quite well. The evening ended with Zach coming back after the encore and telling everyone to move forward and stand up. It ended with some sort of Romanian jig like tune. It was a perfect setting for nearly an hour and a half even when inside of a church!