Okay, disclaimer first: I’ve never seen so much as one episode of the hit television show that spawned this concert. TV just isn’t my thing. Having said that, I’m glad there are people out there creating and watching (what I’ve been told is great) television and loving it or this concert might never have happened.
From the opening storm of Wagner, through mellower Tchaikovsky and Berlioz offerings, we arrived at the evening’s raison d’être:
Breaking Bad — Ozymandias, composed by Maestro Sung Jin Hong, had its world premiere last Sunday evening, and if you weren’t in attendance that evening or the next, you missed it!
But before the music could begin we the audience had to rehearse our role – for this was a One World Symphony concert, and audience participation is part of the fun! Maestro Hong instructed us on the whats and the when (if you weren’t there, like I said before – you missed it!) and then the music began.
In five movements, Breaking Bad — Ozymandias is a modern work. It is filled with the requisite dissonances, dissonances much sharper than any found in the night’s previous works; rich, sumptuous dissonances which make the fleeting climactic consonances all the sweeter and more rewarding. It features exotic instrumentation from the hauntingly lugubrious alto and bass flutes to the colorfully southwest tinged huehuetl, teponaztli and quijada. It even features cussing, or, as I like to think of it, modern vernacular.
But more than these academic attributes, Breaking Bad — Ozymandias is a profoundly striking work with roots deep in the soul of man. Drinking from the themes of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias, the music pours forth a kaleidoscope of sounds big and small; the grandiose and the meek; the proud and the intimate; music of the conqueror and of the conquered. The music was at times a complex fugue, and at other times we (the audience) rhythmically shouted obscenities at the cue of the director like a perverse, dystopian chorus of degenerate rabble rousers. Fun! (Admit it, the opportunity to partake in an experience like this just does not come around every day.)
From the sweet voices of the ladies who opened the program to the electric energy of the premiere we were so fortunate to experience, the evening was one I’m very grateful to have been a part of.