Music and MacBeth

Written by Bruce Barrett
 | Tuesday, 11 August 2009 13:27
Finish the music, and yonder comes the Bard.  I’ve loose ends to tie up for the Southeast Alumni Symphony Orchestra, and some touting the best theater bargain in Duxbury’s cultural cycle: The Gurnet Theatre Project’s free performances of Shakespeare’s tragedy, “MacBeth” (see below).

Symphony first.  Founder Dan Kostreva and Conductor Robert Babb developed the orchestra for summering young South Shore string players, and other symphony musicians to have a chance to gather and perform.  Adults like me serve mainly to fill in the seats and music parts unclaimed by a kid.

Flutist Annie Herchen has played for eleven years.  Her first teacher was her mom, Jennifer Herchen, a local flute and piano teacher.  Her flute solo (Concertino for Flute and Orchestra in D major by Cecile Chaminade) for Wednesday’s concert was beautiful, a soaring swirl of arpeggios reminiscent of Debussy.  Annie’s a Music Education major at Indiana University, and a dancer as well, an alumnus of the Pembroke School of Performing Arts.  When she plays the flute, she thinks of dance.

Annie still dances, and along those lines will be representing Indiana University as this year’s Drum Major, a tremendous honor for its musical, dance, and athletic demands.  Spinning and tossing a flashing mace, the drum major of a marching band runs the whole show on the field, sometimes running the length of the band to reverse their direction, and always drawing from them their highest spirit.

Andy Chau, last year’s concert master, rejoined the orchestra this year to perform a Weber clarinet concerto.  Andy’s first teacher was Joseph Bento at the Henry Lord Middle School in Fall River.  Andy started in the seventh grade, and is now a music education and clarinet performance double major at U. Mass. Lowell.  For Andy, playing music is “like reading out loud, expressing it in my own way, in my own words.”

This year’s concert master was Rachel Lewis, a sophomore at Barnard and member of the Columbia University Orchestra.  Now get ready for the interconnections.  Rachel is a classmate and pal of Liza Kostreva (viola).  Liza’s sister Amanda (cello) also goes to Barnard, and all were friends of Paul Fortini, to whose memory and foundation the concert was dedicated.  Liza and Amanda are both dancers, like Annie.  It’s called synesthesia, the trait by which artists often link their experiential senses: colors for musical notes and chords, motions or gestures for melodies, a panoramic scene for a whole piece.  For me it takes a triangle part and fills it with the sparkle of sunlight on a dew-drop, or with the Dvorak, a village square filled with jubilant dancers.

Now MacBeth.  Was Shakespeare a synesthete?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  His work fills us with images and sensations far beyond the facts – the words on the page that are all we truly have of the man.  Who among us can avoid a secret glance at his own hand when he hears the Lady MacBeth cry in the night?

“Out, damned spot!  Out I say!” she shrieks.

Who can stay his thumb from hopeless rubbing at the marks of secret sin, the stain of innocent blood?

The Gurnet Theatre Project returns to the Myles Standish Park (where the monument stands) to perform the Bard’s “MacBeth.”  Performances are at 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Bring a picnic, sit close, and keep your dogs and children close at hand.  They are welcome.

I saw the show, and I’ll be back this weekend to see it again for a review.  I’ll read it first, or at least the SparkNotes, to help me with the language.  On this troupe’s tongues the words dance and fly like souls in a dream, but I want to train my ear, and to clear away the mist of centuries.