Romance comes in many forms. Sometimes it surprises you, sometimes you can’t put your finger on it…and sometimes you’d rather avoid it and just walk the other way--declaring it cheesy, vomit-inducing…or gasp!...nonexistent. But even the most skeptical among us (myself included) fall victim to that flutter of whimsy, that welling of warmth that allows us to believe--if only for an instant--that the world is perfect and that love is actually possible.
Excuse me. But I’m making myself sick.
In spite of my current predicament of stalled romantic opportunities (some days, I term it “I-Will-Be-Alone-Forever”), I am still easily seduced by that jazzy symphonic ode to romantic nostalgia: Gershwin's An American in Paris. Ever since my friend A and I attended this concert , I can't rid myself from visions of Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, dancing their wistful pas de deux under the starry glow of a Paris dreamscape. To me, romance should sound like a Gershwin composition. Its confluence of brass and strings-- complicated rhythms, long notes held by a lone saxaphone, violins swelling to a rapturous crescendo-- casts a spell that's irresistable. Even the anti-romantics can't help but be moved.
In a packed concert hall last Sunday afternoon, One World Symphony, a community orchestra based here in NYC, performed not just Paris, but also Gershwin's classic (and one of my all-time favorite pieces) Rhapsody in Blue. No matter how often I listen to it, hearing it performed live is still thrilling. I'd love to learn to play it one day. And between the Gershwin masterpieces, they performed a series of works from another love-erly classic: Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. Yes, we know how that one goes. Boy meets Girl and both love and tragedy ensue. This day, the focus was just on the love part. And yes, the song lyrics can be heavy on the fromage (A and I mock-sang the roles of Tony and Maria during intermission, people were probably staring) but the orchestra's conductor was pumped up, and got the audience involved by having us shout "Mambo!" during the hyperkinetic Latin dance sequences. It was awesome. The I-want-to-get-up-and-shake-my-hips kind of awesome.
When it was all over, right as the applause died down, the conductor-- all shifty nerves in his rigid military tux-- faced the audience and began inarticulately waxing poetic about the music...the dedication of his musicians...the orchestra's founding member who made this all happen...and then got on bended knee and proposed to his girlfriend (she's the founding member!) who was sitting up in the balcony. the audience whooped, tears were flowing, and an embrace was had on center stage. me? i was ready to fall in love. too bad Real Life doesn't play like a Gershwin tune.