Friday evening found yours truly once again at the incomparably beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center, as the Nashville Symphony, conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, performed the expertly mastered Beethoven's First Piano Concerto. The guest pianist of the evening was Jeremy Denk, recipient of the 2013 MacArthur "genius" Award, who has also been named Musical America's 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year.
As I waited eagerly for Denk to sit down to his piano (I love piano concertos), I had no idea what to expect as far as the performer himself. And to be quite honest, after watching him perform in a most definitively "genius" fashion, the word that actually came to my mind was "Insanity". I know.. you are awaiting with bated breath on the segue here. But first, I want you to read the definition of the word that comes to my mind.
Insanity Once Defined:
"Doing the Same Old Things & Expecting Different Results"
The next thing that comes to my mind is the old adage that genius and insanity are often a mere hairsbreadth away from one another, right? Okay, here's my train of thought.
First, the pianist comes out dressed almost casually, amidst an orchestra full of black ties and tails. I respect that, but still, it was definitely different. Then, as the orchestra begins playing, I watch as Denk listens raptly to the music that precedes his entrance into the mix: the expressions, movements, drama, I see coming from him as the music obviously flows not just through his eardrums, but all the way to his soul. Again, I respect the bare emotions I could see flowing through the man's mind and body, but again, definitely different.
Then the "genius" himself begins playing. Playing? No; caressing, making love, bringing to orgasm even what I once thought of as an inanimate object: the piano. And once again, I see the thoughts, ideas, ideals, passion, emotions, genius and yes, perhaps a little touch of insanity (said in the most respectful way) flowing through the mind, soul, body and lastly the fingers of this small statured man, until the piano no longer seems only an inanimate object, but an extension of those fingers that stroke, strum, pound, pleasure and pulsate on the piano's sensitive body. Sexual? Kind of. But more an embodiment of insanely genius, or geniusly insane, as I take literally the words, "Doing the Same Old Things & Expecting Different Results", because I see in this man, who plays the same pieces over and over and over again... a man who is never at peace with the results of the piece he currently plays - but plays it again and again and again, with the hope that one day, it will be, in his mind, musical perfection. But only in his mind, because I don't think any one person in the standing audience, amidst thunderous applause, had the thought that his performance was anything less than perfect, played by a genius - if perhaps a bit insane - musician.
And this is but one of the gazillions of performances; incredible, wonderful, great, good and good-if-you-like-it but always professional, well-thought-out, eclectic, entertaining performances hosted at the lovely Schermerhorn.
Eclectic, you might notice is an adjective I use regularly when describing my pet musical and more event venue. Because as always, it ain't only about classical music at the Schermerhorn, but a plethora of entertainment, ranging from classical including free coffee and pastries, exquisite fashion shows, comedy and even, yes, cartoons. Seriously, coming up at the center is Coffee & Classics, a classical concert (Mozart this Friday) with free coffee and pastries on a Friday morning, simply classical (Friday eve, Mozart) - but still coffee available at the wonderful cafe - OMG, try the Pecan Squares!, an exquisite Symphony Fashion Show (featuring the stylings of Christian Siriano, from Project Runway) to benefit the Symphony - and the public (April 29), Les Miserables (Opera, May 3-4) and even a future fun event for kids of all ages, Fantasia with the Nashville Symphony coming up soon (June 27). And more - jazz, blues, soul, pop, you name it. And you shouldn't miss it.