By Dan Pool, editor
The comedian Victor Borge once joked that he knew only two pieces of classical music – “one is Clair de Lune and the other one isn't."
That pretty well sums up my knowledge of symphony as well. My own musical tastes tend to run the gamut – of rock that is. With playlists ranging from Yonder Mountain to the Talking Heads with some Waylon Jennings thrown in for variety, I rarely venture into performances where the musicians wear tuxedos.
Seeking dry, indoor entertainment over the Independence Day holiday, however, my family went to the Falany Performing Arts Center at Reinhardt College to see The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Luckily we had bought tickets ahead of time as it was a sell out.
I am sure that it’s healthy for everyone, particularly kids, to be exposed to the fine arts, so the night at the symphony was as much parenting as pure entertainment.
If challenged I can’t elaborate on why I’m convinced it’s beneficial in the greater scheme of things to listen to a stage full of violins, oboes, cellos and other instruments whose names I’m pretty vague on.
Perhaps the reason I have limited appreciation for classical music is growing up in Pickens County in the 1970s, there were scant opportunities to attend symphony performances without a long drive.
The opportunity for live performances of music other than rock and country is now afforded this community with the Falany Center hosting a regular calendar of not only classical, but jazz, and unusual music from around the world. Sharptop Arts Center in downtown Jasper and the Casual Classics series also give some chances to hear highbrow music.
I must confess that my night at the symphony was surprisingly very enjoyable. There was a certain novelty of watching the orchestra in a small venue. And the music itself was engaging, even to someone with a limited background in woodwinds and strings.
One person leaving the concert remarked that the Atlanta Symphony selection was perfect for all. Two of the works (Brahms’ Variations of a Theme by Haydn and On the Beautiful Blue Danube) should have been familiar to everyone while the final part of the concert (Symphony Number 2 by Jean Sibelius) is a rare selection that fans of symphony should appreciate hearing live.
I actually didn’t know the Brahms, but would bet that most everyone would immediately recognize Strauss’ Blue Danube. It was nice to know one of the works being played, though the snippets of this song used in commercials and movies don’t do the whole work justice.
There are a bandwidth clogging number of websites which extol the benefits of classical music. From a firsthand point of view, I’d encourage you to go and take your kids to some of the programs at the Falany, Sharptop or other local venues.
Even if you don’t see an immediate benefit, somewhere down the road in their life, maybe in college, maybe on a job site, your kids might get to say “classical music? Yeah, I’ve been to the symphony before.”
Exposing kids to fine arts or anything they wouldn’t normally get to see/hear/do opens all kinds of doors. And for a small north Georgia town, we are lucky to have access to a world-class performance center, the Falany, in Waleska.
It should be noted that tickets to the Falany Center shows are very reasonable, especially when you factor in saving a sizeable amount on gas and with free parking you wouldn’t get in Atlanta.
Look for regular news of upcoming performances at the Falany Center or in other venues nearby on our community calendar or in our pages each week. It may surprise you how much you like something new.