Einstein on the Beach – Toronto – Luminato Festival 6

This past Saturday, Lisa, myself, and some friends went to Toronto to attend the performance of Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, presented as part of the Luminato Festival 6.  I had long wanted to see a performance of this work, ever since my early exposure and interests in Glass some 18 years ago, and was very happy to finally satisfy this long-held curiosity.

The performance was done without intermissions, and lasted about 4.5 hours.  The performance used the original staging.  The performance was… astounding. I was mostly mesmerized from the start to finish, sitting in my seat throughout the performance.  Glass’s music felt as fresh as ever (I find his early music has “it”, that quality that permeates a timeless work).  Robert Wilson’s staging was equally as present, and Lucinda Childs’ choreography was a joy to watch.  

The highlights for me were the first Dance scene and the Spaceship scene, the first for the dance and the latter for the music.  The rest of the work was of fantastic, but those two scenes were particularly engaging for me.  The violinist did a wonderful job, as did the rest of the performers.

If there was any criticism I would have for the work, I would say two things stuck out. The first is the Building scene: the solo saxophonist didn’t really work for me.  Musically and dramatically it felt like a departure from the rest of the work. While the opera as a whole had a wonderfully surreal quality, I felt the saxophone solo broke from it.  While the visuals and rest of what was going on stage may continued the surreal dream-like world of the rest of the scenes, the music was enough to break focus and threw me off a bit.

Secondly, the performer doing the narrations involving “Mr. Bojangles.” At times I had some difficulty in understanding what was being said, especially compared to the performer doing the narrations for “I was in this prematurely air-conditioned supermarket…”.  It felt that the first performer had gotten a bit tongue-tied at times, keeping up with the rapid pace of the dialogue.

Overall, I thought the performance was fantastic, and I was more than ecstatic in satisfying this long held curiosity to see this work.  I hope that later in my life that there will continue to be performances of this work to attend.  I was also very inspired by this performance, and I look forward to now getting back to my own composing work.

Lessons from Lumosity: Slower and more correct is better than fast and being wrong

I have been doing brain training games on lumosity.com for a while now.  Doing the daily training has been fun, and I feel that they do have a positive impact.  Of all the things I have taken away from the games, the one lesson that has most been on my mind lately has been that “slower and more correct is better than fast and being wrong.”

In certain games, one gets a higher score by getting more correct in a row, rather than total correct.  I have always had a tendency to do things quickly, at the expense of not necessarily doing this completely correctly.  I can see this manifest in a number of areas in my life.  The earliest was when I was in middle and high school, taking exams I would often finish early and turn things in, getting a few mistakes that would have been easy to correct if I had taken my time.  In my writing, I often find awkward phrases while editing that I imagine could have been done better the first time around.  (Though, with writing, sometimes it’s better to just get the thoughts out and revise later.)

I have been thinking about this idea a fair amount during my tai chi practices recently. I have been focusing on practicing with more awareness and more precision, trying to do things correctly.  Consequently, my practices have been slower and longer, but I find the work has been very rewarding.

I think too with programming, there’s a lot of conversations about incurring technical debt due to introducing quick fixes/hacks that will later need to be redone more properly.  This too can be a case where doing things more correctly can be better.

The flip-side of this is trying to do things absolutely perfectly.  This can be paralyzing to work on a project. It is a spectrum of correctness and speed: perfection and slowness on one side, fast but incorrect on the other.  I think I have tended to be on the faster side, but I am now working to bring myself more in balance.  I hope that the patience I have been working on in Lumosity and in my tai chi practice will continue to manifest in my music and programming work.