My expedition to the Orchestras of I-65 enters its second day. (Previously: Prologue and Day 1.) After breakfast with three Nashville Symphony players — Zeneba Bowers, Jeremy Williams, and Roger Wiesmeyer — I pilot the Pontiac G6 back on the interstate and head toward Birmingham. At 187 miles, it's a somewhat less strenuous drive than the 287 miles that I had to traverse between morning and evening performances on Thursday. As I enjoy doing when I drive this great country of ours, I randomly exit the highway a couple of times and venture onto two-lane roads. The routine is that I keep on driving until I begin to feel lost, anxious about the time, and/or psychically uncomfortable, at which point I turn back. That point arrives around the time I pass the scenic ruin above. A detail:
I'm surprised to see a rocket at a rest stop in Alabama:
Walk around Birmingham at the end of the afternoon:
Tomorrow's flea market:
The main performance space, Jemison Concert Hall, is still rather somber in mood — brown is the color of classical music everywhere — but it's a comfortable place to hear music:
The hall seats 1346, with the audience surrounding the players. The acoustics are very good; the orchestra makes a full, rich sound, with excellent definition of timbres and very responsive bass. The program, under the direction of the ASO's new music director, Justin Brown, consists of Weber's Freischütz Overture, Elgar's Cello Concerto (with Anne Gastinel), and the Eroica. It's a formidable performance by any standard. Brown, a young Englishman with a passion for new music and a distinct flair for traditional repertory, seems to be off to a great start here in Birmingham. More in the New Yorker soon.