Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thoughts on the ISO's Happy Hour

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Steve Shades Hackman at the Mel.
  • Steve "Shades" Hackman at the Mel.
There's a semi-legitimate argument floating around the zeitgeist that programs like Happy Hour - the ISO's booze-laden, Time for Three-driven, young professional-seeking, not at all intimidating program of indie rock, Americana and bite-size classical warhorses - are bad for classical music.

You see, the kids will get a false impression, and will be surprised to see that at "typical" symphony concerts, you have to pay for your drinks, the conductor is old and not very hot (unlike the fetching Steve "Shades" Hackman, see above, the one-time American Idol contestant who has led Happy Hour since Time for Three took it over), the symphonies can sometimes run for as long as an hour (without clapping between movements), and so on.

(I borrow this argument from a post by former NUVO critic Chantal Incandela, "Happy Hour, aka Getting Whored Out Hour," to her blog, Mahler Owes Me Ten Bucks.)

But this all seems to me a bit specious, not only because Krzysztof Urbanski isn't so deficient in the looks department himself - but also a) not all young professionals are neanderthals, disappointed when the shiny thing goes away; b) it's not all about the trappings - there is also the music, which ranges from inventive arrangements of indie rock (notably Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek") to Time for Three's typical virtuosic Americana; and c) the classical world is a bit hidebound for reasons that sometimes have more to do with economics than aesthetics, and being that the ISO isn't, say, the Royal Concertgebouw, there ought to be room for experimentation and growth, with thought toward how the ISO can draw in new audiences without compromising anything essential.

That's well enough about that; this year's final Happy Hour program - 6:30 p.m. tonight, with food and drink available from 5 p.m., at Hilbert Circle Theatre; tickets $25 - will inlclude arrangements of Beatles songs and Mumford and Sons' "Little Lion Man," Grieg's Holberg Suite and a Time for Three original, "Banjo Love." Here's a look at Time for Three's video for "Stronger," which combines elements from Kanye West's "Stronger" and Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Stronger, Faster" and "Nightvision":

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