rhythm, culture, orchestras, and smiles
I don’t mean to encourage stereotypes here, but let’s look at rhythmic stereotypes for a minute. If some thing is totally not grooving, we say it sounds white. The culture that has produced the aesthetic that informs most classical orchestras is know for its lack of rhythmic authority. Is it any surprise that orchestras tend to be rhythmically loose. Latin and African descended cultures tend to be much more rhythmic, at least in stereotype, so it is no surprise that the Venezuelan kids can rock out. I played a concert under Carlos Miguel Prieto, and he seemed to pull the rhythmic reigns tighter than most, and the group grooved (relatively speaking). Maybe it is a latin thing. Prieto seemed to be having fun too, which brings on my next point.
The other thing about that video that got me was the amount of fun that was visible on their faces. These musicians are having a blast! We forget that in too many genres. Serious jazz artists can take themselves and their music way too seriously. I remember sitting in the Louisiana Philharmonic trombone section next to my college teacher. He was grumbling about something, and I said, “Dick, you don’t make enough money not to be having fun.” He didn’t laugh…or quit grumbling. Of course it is easy for me to have fun on that gig, I only do it once or twice a year, and maybe grumbling is how he has fun, but audiences react to smiling faces.
I love the Tomorrow Music Orchestra sticker that reads “Experimenting with the idea that music is really fun!” We should all do that more often.