The Eighth Page

A Night At The Orchestra with Kazoo Enthusiast Jesse Bielasiak

Some would say Andover was blessed on Friday night when the New Modern Harmonic Saxophone Quartet played at Cochran Chapel. Others would not. The quartet, featuring soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophonists is on a tour of New England and visited Phillips Academy this past weekend. The quartet played their concert on Friday night in a quiet Cochran Chapel. Attendance was sparse as most students were at sports, dinner or generally doing something else more interesting than listening to a saxophone quartet. “I was sitting in the third row all by myself,” said Mo Lester ’12. “And there were only four people in the rows in front of me. I guess I’m the only student whose top Friday night priority is the New Modern Harmonic Saxophone Quartet. How peculiar!” Their first piece was a modernized rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” The group interestingly morphed Ode into an upbeat G major Blues piece with a solo by the tenor. “It was awesome how they faded from Beethoven to modern, all while injecting their own twist,” said a red-eyed Hugh Stoner ’11. “Then the solo! It was incredible. There were changes in tempo and volume, and he played notes! They are like the saxophone versions of like, Pink Floyd. Or Jimi Hendrix.” The next piece was a Hoagy Carmichael Jazz ensemble featuring a solo from the alto. “The Carmichael piece was my favorite,” said Penny Nichols ’13. “It flowed like the rolling seas of Narnia.” After the Carmichael song, the baritone stepped to front stage to lead the band in a chorus of the New Boyz single “You’re a Jerk.” Surprisingly, it did not translate very well to a saxophone quartet. “‘You’re a Jerk’ was the most disappointing part,” said Stoner. “I was really excited to see how they’d do it. How they could translate bad rap into saxophone music. Well, they didn’t very well.” After a few other equally unentertaining pieces, the band left their instruments at their side and stood for bows and mild—at best—applause. Though their song selection was as varied as Tiger Woods’ love life, there was a certain theme that carried over from song to song. They were all interminably, unabashedly, and even deathly boring. Really, though: some guy straight up had a stroke and died in the third row. It was only slightly more exciting than doodle night in Ryley the previous week. The quality of Andover weekend events ceased to surprise me about a week before I got here. Then, this week, I was assigned to cover the New Harmonic Quartet for FArts. I hoped it would not be completely mind numbing, but I only built myself up to be letdown yet again. Not only are all Andover weekend events miserable, all orchestra events are brain-crushingly so. I have tried, through the last few paragraphs, to describe how boring this one was, but I don’t think I’ve done my boredom justice. What began as a mildly unentertaining Friday night ended as a visit to musical hell. I would rather listen to a kitten being sucked up by an industrial vacuum than have to attend another orchestra concert. Going to orchestra concerts is kind of like seeing Avatar in 2-D: Completely pointless and unentertaining.