Friday, July 27, 2018

Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling: A Synthesis of Music

"Abstract-painting stylizing" of a bad photo. Lindsey Stirling and Amy Lee "killing it"!
We had a splendid experience this week.

John Paul, Agnese, and I attended a big concert with about 20,000 other people in Northern Virginia on Tuesday night.

Though I love music, I don't get to many concerts these days, certainly not as many as I would like. Outside of the Appaloosa Festival, I hadn't been to a large venue in a long time.

The lineup for this show, however, was extraordinary. The incredibly creative Amy Lee with Evanescence was on the bill, with their rock-classical-music-fusion project called Synthesis that has been touring for almost a year in collaboration with local orchestras throughout the world.

Then there was Lindsey Stirling. I don't even need to tell you who she is, or why I would want to see this YouTube superstar's famous electronic violin-and-dance show. This time, she would also have the orchestra.

Two full shows, one after the other, with some music together as well. "I don't think I could make it through all that," I thought. Unfortunately, with my unreliable health, I have to look at things this way. If I'm not realistic, I'll have to pay the price, and sometimes its more than I or my family can bear.

This gives you an idea of the layout. We
weren't close but it didn't matter. We had
seats and we were dry. Famous cellist
Dave Eggar and drummer Chuck Palmer
were the "opener" and they were great too.
But the shaky fancam video clips people posted from the first combo shows at the beginning of July really impressed me. As the Virginia date drew near, I wondered, "Can I do this? But how?"

If I pace myself I can do big activities here and there... I knew this would take a lot out of me, but it wasn't impossible. Still, what clinched it for me was having these terrific adult children who wanted to bring me to this concert. All the driving-parking business taken care of, no worries for me.

So, we did it!

The best thing was that we had a great time together! Eileen and the other kids weren't really interested, and I don't know if they would have liked it. But for John Paul, Agnese, and me, it was perfect.

We had a blast. It was a memorable time together.

It was also one of the most outstanding concerts I have ever seen. It exceeded my expectations. It was stunning, beautiful, awesome, loud, three hours long... it was almost too much, but it didn't cross the line (it certainly didn't cross our line).

Lindsey Stirling's set was terrific, of course, but it was more than anything she's done before.

There were huge digital panels beaming a brilliant variety of coordinated video imagery, added to the choreography and the usual rivers of intensive music from Lindsey's plugged-in violin and the orchestral accompaniment. It was breathtaking. It's hard to believe that this tour is Lindsey's first time performing with an orchestra. There was an excellent interplay between the glowing bright riffs of her electronic violin and the classical richness of orchestral music. It all worked amazingly well. It was remarkable. Really, I have never seen anything quite like it on a stage before.

The whole evening was great. Words, pictures, or videos can't convey what happened. So much talent and hard work on so many levels came together in such an outstanding way.

Evanescence, Synthesis. I have meaning to write about this album and now I have to, after seeing it so powerfully presented. It's a larger sound, with more dramatic intensity as well as a whole spectrum of nuance. But it also still rocks.

I am so WIPED OUT, but for a good reason. Right now I'm trying to recuperate. I pushed myself on Tuesday night (and I'm glad I did). I'm exhausted, but it was a wonderful time. It was a great time with my kids. And the artist/musician/media-nerd in me was blown away. I have lots of reflections about the whole thing still in my head, and I am only beginning to ponder them. I can't write much about it yet.

(Of course, with me, everything gets "pondered." I share what I can, when I can, with anyone who might be interested.)

First, I just want to give a shout out to the extraordinary Amy Lee, who brought all these talented people together. She has come a long way from that spooky-looking kid on the cover of their first album in 2003. That kid had a lot of dreams. She has long been underestimated as an artist, a composer, a creative genius.

There were no doubts about any of that on Tuesday night. She nailed all of her own rich melodic songs, her evocative voice working beautifully with the orchestra, bringing out all those signature tones that only Amy Lee's voice can produce. And she played the piano beautifully, and basically just owned the stage. It was a command performance.

I didn't get any good pictures, but I have assembled a collage of a few poor ones (along with a screenshot at the bottom from a 2017 video where she first explained the project) in appreciation for the great lady behind this whole unique musical enterprise.

Amy Lee, you keep getting more amazing and more accomplished! I do believe the best is yet to come.✨

I hope that this is the first of many collaborations between these two Queens of Music. In the much better, official-ish pictures below (credit to the owners—Amy's pic is from the Evanescence website) it might look like their complementarity is as simple as a harmonious contrast between "somber" and "bright," or "melancholy" and "cheerful."

But that would be an over-simplification. Amy Lee's art has always been more like a light in the darkness. Precisely through her music she refuses to brood on sorrow, but endures and struggles to overcome it, and reaches out in hope of being rescued from it.

Lindsey Stirling's art is also a light in a different context: it is a light that shines bravely, that refuses to be snuffed out by the darkness that is always fighting against it.

Even here, I am over-simplifying it, but perhaps I'm moving a little closer to why these shows—even beyond their displays of musical virtuosity and high-tech "virtual fireworks"—have been such happy events.

These are two courageous women, who have persevered in their artistic vision against the trends (and against those in the "music business" who try to turn artists into slaves of perceived trends and dependable financial profits).

An orchestra plays surrounded by the light show.
These two women have succeeded in contemporary music without compromising their integrity. They have done it by staying focused, by patience, hard work, and finding collaborators who share their vision and who also contribute to it in countless ways. They also continue to grow and develop, to try new things, to take risks (the most recent of which is this huge 31 city tour, with a different orchestra in each city).

What I saw Tuesday night was the gathering together of vast resources, talents, energies, and technology with all its glitter and power and wildness and strangeness. All of this was dedicated to an effort to make something beautiful, and true, and good, from all the stuff and complexity of contemporary life.

They succeeded. But human arts never attain absolute perfection. A true artist remains "restless," and thereby continues to be creative.

I can't wait to hear (and see) what they'll do next.🎵😊