Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Deaf and Copland

Two weeks ago, I performed with the Kansas City Symphony for their series of Kinder Konzert.  It was about the science of sound, featuring a curator from the Science City center in Union Station.  Over four days, there were 8 brief concerts and an attendance of over 12,000 students.  That's an unbelievable number to be involved with.

I still remember going to Powell Hall in St. Louis when I was young and seeing the symphony.  I don't remember anything about the concert or what we saw, but I remember going at some point.  Hopefully these kids do, too. 


The majority of the brass performed only one piece on stage, Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for a Common Man" which followed introductions of the various members of the brass and percussion "families".  It's difficult, though, because how can anything follow the slap stick and vibraslap? 

On the final day, someone standing down at the edge of the stage caught my eye.  It was a young woman signing for a deaf student somewhere.  I scanned the audience in front of her, but no student ever seemed to be looking at her -- typical students don't pay much attention!  But I was entranced by the grace and speed, as I never fail to be. 

I don't know what I find fascinating about it, but I know that other people don't have the same fascination.  I don't think I could do that sort of translation well: I'm uncoordinated enough to have trouble with the three buttons on a trumpet!  The translator didn't have my problems as she plowed through composer's names and scientific terminology without letting her hands stop. 

I couldn't see what sign is for "waves vibrate the tympanic membrane of the ear", but I bet it didn't look anything like "Beethoven sometimes composed with his head on the piano to feel the vibrations". 

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