piano trios in hyde park

The Hyde Park theater is my new favorite place to see a show! The mood and the atmosphere there yesterday was that of the Church of the Friendly Ghost (CotFG) resurrected. In case you’re from Austin and never managed to discover CotFG during the all too brief time it was open, it was a hidden gem east of I35 dedicated to showcasing strange and wonderful art and music. Kids from the neighborhood would wander in and listen to scathing avant-garde pedal noise right alongside the hipster and elder generations. And it was BYOB. RIP CotFG — you are missed.

Anyway, Hyde Park last night was the first time I caught a show with the same intimacy and closeness that the CotFG had. The tiny, womb-like room is painted black, and the only light source yesterday was the warm illumination from three small music stand lamps on stage. There was cross-generational attendance and everyone was enthusiastic about the happening. Finally, there was plenty of beers being passed around, which ratcheted up the CotFG nostalgia for me even more.

The music itself was a pleasant surprise. It was the original compositions of local artists Peter Stopschinski and Graham Reynolds, as well as David Wyatt and JJ Robins. The program billed itself as “Very new compositions for piano trio,” which left me expecting some very challenging sounds the likes of which usually comes from the term “new music” (“New Music,” in the world of elitist ivory tower classical composersnobs, is a genre name that loosely means music composed by them for them in the 20th century). On the contrary, the sounds at last evening’s new music concert were very sonorous and melodic and accesible. Many of the trios performed were only bite-sized lengths of about 5 to 10 minutes, and they sounded like something from film score.

I was pleased with the program editor’s reference to “bridging the gap between the classical and nightclub band scenes here in Austin.” Bravo! The classical and nightclub band scenes here in Austin are like the Patty Duke twins – estranged, but with more in common than they realize.

I often listen to bands that sound like something out of a music observatory, but because they put out records on indie labels and showcase their music in dives, they don’t get the same kind and respectfulness of attention. But if you played one of my favorite bands after something by Schoenberg, only a scholar would know the difference.

Classical music needs to come down a notch and back to the people, the way it did at the Hyde Park Theater yesterday. There needs to be inappropriately enthusiastic applause betweeen movements, and crowd whistles, and impromptu annecdotes from the performers, and Beethoven jokes — all of which there were last night. I’m so glad I live in Austin when I witness shows like this.

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