A doe in the headlights

January 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

Walt Disney Concert Hall. A small ensemble and a famous conductor/composer of New Music wait on stage. A trim young woman in narrow black slacks and scoop-necked black top enters holding a wireless microphone. She stops, looks around as though she’s not quite sure what she’s doing there.

The iconic conductor gives the ensemble a signal, music issues forth, and instantly the woman morphs into an assured vocalist. She sings in short, breathy phrases with dreamy concentration. At times she gestures languidly. The poignant lyrics, inspired by letters between distant lovers five centuries ago, evoke love and loss.

Her companion, foil, background is the ensemble’s lush music. Together they weave a melancholy and utterly captivating tapestry of sound.

The piece concludes and, instantly, the vocalist is again a bewildered child: stiff, uncertain of what to do or where to go until the conductor seizes her hand and leads her into a bow. They exit, but wild applause draws her back onstage where she stands in bewilderment until running off again.

The abrupt transformations astonishes me. The young woman is Julia Holter and the composition —Memory Drew Her Portrait— is hers. The piece was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and this performance is its world premiere. Holter is a CalArts MFA with three albums who has performed on multiple continents.

Why the deer-in-the-headlights ungainliness?

The Phil’s New Music group played three other compositions that evening; their male composers had no difficulty mounting the stage or taking bows. I had hoped that by now, young women would have learned to step into their power rather than feel flummoxed by it. Can it be that women still aren’t supposed to display confidence, strength, and, yes, even pride?

I guess not.

 

Tagged: , ,

§ 2 Responses to A doe in the headlights

  • Joseph Maizlish says:

    I’ll guess that she’ll become accustomed to it. But perhaps as a composer she’s not as attention-adept as, e.g., a diva. Is this in part your story too? L J

    Like

  • Janet says:

    I have seen many female singers who sing beautifully, then respond to the audience graciously. That’s the norm for the ones I see.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading A doe in the headlights at Real in L.A..

meta

%d bloggers like this: