View selections of our 50th Anniversary concert recorded by and aired on WHYY
THE REAL THING
By Ralph Spain for the Avenue Writing Group (excerpt)
The murmur of friendly voices fills the crowded room as the last attendees wander in and find seats. The Dover Symphony Orchestra is settling in to their seats on stage. Sounds from the stage are counterpoint to the voices of the audience as instruments are positioned and tested. Now the head violinist stands and leads the various sections in the final tuning of their instruments. The Orchestra becomes still and silent as does the audience. From the left the conductor enters the stage and proceeds to the podium amid a round of applause from the Orchestra and audience. Now the Beethoven concert begins.
The room is filled with sound, all the complexity and nuances of classical music. This is the first time I have participated in an orchestra concert. (Perhaps the second; some recollections of the long ago fade into the mists of time.) As the musicians play, their creation fills the room. It is more than music as I am used to; more than the same pieces as I have listened to them on the radio, records, and compact disks. The range of sound is broader – higher and lower – than that conveyed by the best of electronics. More than that, there is sound beyond the range detectable by the human ear. It is sensed, to some extent, by the physical sense of touch and vision but far more by the senses of the soul. This was especially impressed on me when the Orchestra played the Turkish March, Op. 113. I had heard the piece many times on the radio and CDs so I recognized the song even though I didn’t know its title.
Hearing a live performance of something familiar emphasized for me these previously unrecognized aspects of classical music. The crowded room accented the whole scope of the music that would have been lost in a larger, uncrowded room. Music reproduced electronically can be beautiful and inspiring but it can never attain the range and nuances of the real thing.