By Talia Honikman
Sometimes something is so ridiculously amazing that you just get blown away by it. On Sunday, November 8th, I was blown away by one person and their mandolin一more than I ever have been before.
I got the opportunity to go see the musician Chris Thile perform at the Lobero Theater. It was an incredible experience and I would go and see him again in a heartbeat. Not many people know who he is, but he is absolutely worth looking up because his music is amazing. He plays everything on his mandolin, even things that weren’t written for it.
I have been to so many different concerts一symphony performances, string orchestra and quartet recitals, rock or pop artists’ concerts一but this show is the first one that actually brought me to tears because the music was so beautiful.
When we arrived at the theater, it was packed, but that was to be expected. The show was almost entirely sold out when we got the tickets, so we sat way in the back corner. However, we could see adequately and still hear all of the music.
Something that’s particularly interesting about the way that Chris Thile plays the mandolin, is how versatile the music that he performs is. He can play something you sing along and stamp your feet to one moment, something you laugh to the next, and finish with a song when the audience is completely silent for because of how crazily, exquisitely beautiful the music is.
We (the audience) went from stamping our feet to the tune of “Rabbit in a Log” to singing, “If you’re gonna leave me, set me up with one of your friends,” at the top of our lungs, to sitting in utter silence, earnestly listening to the Bach A-minor Sonata for unaccompanied violin that Thile was playing, hearing but not quite comprehending the sound of every plucked note, and holding onto that note until the next one came. Something that’s cool about classical music on on the mandolin is that it’s looser, more relaxed, than classical music on the violin. That makes it really interesting to listen to.
When the audience started clapping in the middle of the first and second movements (which in the world of classical music is a very rude thing to do, because the piece isn’t technically over yet) Thile took it in stride: he grinned and said, “But wait! There’s more!” And continued deeper into the elegant multiverse that the world calls music. I vaguely wondered how the classical music “snobs” were coping after that event when if you go to a symphony and someone claps between movements of the repertoire, they could get admonished or shushed. I know this from personal experience.
The concert was just over an hour and a half long, but it felt like only twenty minutes. I was smiling widely the whole time. There were moments when I debated switching from violin to mandolin. I have been to some performances that continued to drag on for what seemed like hours. This was a relatively long concert, but it seemed so short一I was having an amazing time, just sitting there, listening, laughing, crying, smiling. (Thanks a lot, relativity.) Every single time a song ended, I would frantically check my watch to make sure we still had enough time.
In the space of an hour, Chris Thile made it seem like the “boundaries” that society has set for the musical genres were actually nonexistent. He played the pieces that he wanted to play, whether those pieces happened to be bluegrass, classical, or country, or even something that didn’t have a specific name, like the song he sang at the beginning of the show, along with a Bach partita, that he made up about Santa Barbara. He played each and every one of the songs beautifully. When I got home, despite the large amount of homework I still had to do, I immediately plotted out all of the Chris Thile songs I was planning to buy off of iTunes.
I had such an awesome time and I will be watching the calendar for Thile’s return, even if it is years until he comes back. Honestly, I would go see the exact same show over and over again because the music was so real, heartfelt, and to put it simply, incredible.