My 7PM flight to Indianapolis arrives at 1AM. After a few hours' sleep I proceed through Monument Circle to the Hilbert Circle Theatre, for an 11AM matinee by the Indianapolis Symphony. The gifted young French conductor Stéphane Denève, who is reportedly working wonders with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, leads Berlioz's Francs-juges Overture and Mahler's First. On Friday and Saturday he will add to the program Une Lueur dans l'age sombre (A Glimmer in an Age of Darkness) by the young French composer Guillaume Connesson. Hilbert Circle Theatre is an ex-movie theater of the grand pre-war type:
By 2PM I'm heading south on I-65, which will be my constant companion on this Midwestern/Southern orchestra road trip:
The vehicle is a Pontiac G6. Visible in the background are trucks and cows, signifying America:
Playing on the stereo are the new Wilco record, Björk's Medúlla (meant to grab Volta), Georg Friedrich Haas's in vain (with regards to Sam Adams), the fabulous Mark Padmore Handel recital (soon out on Harmonia Mundi), and Golijov's Ayre (a favorite driving record). Believe it or not, the CD-recognition system knows what in vain is when I put it in the player. It refuses, however, to play it. So instead I find myself listening three times in succession to Wilco's Sky Blue Sky. The first thing that grabs me is the closer, "On and On and On," built on an unending two-note whole-tone ostinato against which the vocal line and accompanying harmonies gently clash. In general, though, this is a less new-musicky, noise-drunk Wilco; it's more an homage to the Band (Garth Hudson ghost-church organ) and Tonight's the Night Neil Young (Nils Lofgren-style guitar). I've never really raved about Wilco before, but there is something piercing about the emotional landscape of this record. It certainly chimes well with Kentucky, through which I regretfully zoom almost without stopping:
6PM, Music City:
The music in question will be Kevin Puts's Elgar-inspired ...this noble company, Haydn's Symphony No. 103, and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, as performed by the Nashville Symphony, under Alasdair Neale's direction, at the almost brand-new Schermerhorn Symphony Center:
Just now, when the room-service guy brought me a late-night fried-chicken salad, he saw the above picture on my computer and asked, "That picture, is it in America?" Not just America, across the street! A couple of shots from a late-night walk on the adjoining pedestrian bridge:
Musical details to follow in a forthcoming New Yorker.