A Nashville Night of the Arts
I’m fairly new to Music City. Living here for four years isn’t a substantial amount of time to explore a great city like Nashville, especially when those four years were spent behind dorm doors studying Roman history and writing news articles on the fly. Having put my college years behind me, these upcoming years will be dedicated to explore every nook and cranny of this place until I can tell a tourist where to go and what to eat in a single breath because, as that song goes, “I’ve been everywhere, man”.
One night, I was talking to Kevin, one of my dear college friends, and we decided to have a “Night of Fancy” where we would explore and support the local arts. We chose to check out the new Carrie Mae Weems exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and then catch one of the last performances of “Fairy Tales & Fate” at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
I was ecstatic.
I’ve been to the Schermerhorn once and that was to watch one of the practices of “Christmas at Belmont” during my sophomore year of college, but I always wanted to go to a performance and hear the Nashville Symphony. I had heard good things. Besides, I’ve always had a knack for the glamorous; and, in my mind, going to the symphony on a random Friday night was as glamorous to me as strutting down a red carpet with camera lights flashing.
Our first stop was the Frist, where we perused the multimedia exhibit by Carrie Mae Weems, on display until Jan. 13, 2013, that was a collaboration of three decades of photography and video. The exhibit was centered on stereotypes of race, class and gender. Weems gleaned some personal examples and, one of her most powerful pieces, “Kitchen Table Series” is loosely based off of her life as it traces a woman’s life through love found, love lost, motherhood and a strength and desire to have a voice in her community.
“From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried” examines the cause and effect of slavery and racial bigotry throughout the United States, Africa and Europe. The juxtaposition of past and present is seamless and Weems draws on stereotypes, racial references and history through stunning photographs and emotionally etched text on glass.
After an hour of browsing, we made our way to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The center’s neo-Classical architecture screams opulence and grandeur. The marble floors, thick pillars and beautiful crown-molding demand attention and awe. The beautiful hardwood stage glistens under modern chandeliers. Tickets range from $16.50 – $149 depending on the show you want to see during the 2012-2013 season.
The 85-member orchestra readied their instruments for the evening’s performance. The acoustics in the auditorium are sublime so that you could hear a pin drop if by happenstance. Hans Graf, the conductor, made his way to the podium, readied his baton and led the orchestra through an array of musical selections of “Fairy Tales & Fate”.
Ma Mère l’Oye (“Mother Goose”), Maurice Ravel’s recreation of childhood fantasy, follows the story of Sleeping Beauty; Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête(“Conversations of Beauty and the Beast”); Tom Thumb, a woodcutter’s son who gets lost in the woods; Laideronnette, impératrice des Pagodes (“Little Ugly, Empress of the Pagodas”), a princess, who is transformed into the ugliest woman in the world by a witch, finds herself in a magical kingdom; and, finally, the concluding tale of Prince Charming finding Sleeping Beauty and awakening her, finishing the symphony in a triumphant crescendo.
The fantasy-filled evening intensified with Ingrid Fliter’s performance of Camille Saint Saëns’ “Concerto for Piano No. 2 in C minor”. The piece moves away from the conventional fast-slow-fast format, allowing the piano to set the pace and the mood of the piece through dramatic cadenzas. The orchestra follows the piano’s lead, building momentum and suspense until the very end.
Robert Schumann’s “Symphony No. 2 in C major” closed the evening. The work reflects Schumann’s year of nervous breakdowns and “dark times” in 1844. The piece begins dark and lowing, slow and simple fanfare that plays throughout the piece. It’s haunting and emotional, but a spirit of jubilation and freedom end the piece, giving confidence of hope and restoration.
Our night filled with Nashville arts was a complete success. A couple of activities and places were checked off my bucket list and the night ended with a stroll under city lights, not a star in sight.
What are your favorite arts centers to visit in Tennessee?