Weather has turned chilly again in Chicago, after several days of unseasonably warm days. Last night though it was turning cool it was a very pleasant night to head over the the Funky Buddha Lounge. Since moving to Chicago I have heard of the funky Buddha Lounge but while I appreciate Hip Hop as the titel of this Blog would suggest I do not frequent Hip Hop clubs.
What brought me and a good number of people to the Funky Buddha last night wasn't Hip Hop but the Accende Ensemble performing Osvaldo Golijov's The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind. No not what one would expect to find at the Funky Buddha, some might even say (on either side of this fence) that such chamber music doesn't belong there.
I found it to be an wonderful experience. To place this Chamber music peice that is itself somewhat ecclectic in the context of a night club suits my own ecclectic and boundary crossing aesthetic. The performance was at 10 but there was a hosted bar from 8-9 PM so there was the whole experience of being at a club for performance sitting and standing around house music playing as people talked and drank. Then a hush (briefly) as the Accende Ensemble took thier places and began to play.
I heard Accende Ensemble first play this peice in a slightly more common venue for such a thing at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Edgewatter. The place and the crowd had the dignity and the solmnety one associates with classical music, which encourages a certain form of listening, letting the music flow over you engulf you become the only reality for a time. It is in a sense meditative, and I think especially with this piece.
Hearing this peice in a club, where people will continue to talk as music plays, and as people come and leave throught the time the club is opened, is different, it is listening along with, it is aware that there is a crowd that there is a world outside. One does not listen in a club without interuption. One may argue that some of the subtlety of the piece is missed in such a setting, that one will not hear as well various aspects of the piece. However, in a sense those things are heard differently, they in fact come alive as they are forced to meet the bustle and noise of our world. I felt the piece lived in away it did not in a more "ideal" setting where everything was controled. Somehow I felt that it was especially appropriate that this piece was played in this setting, for it is not simply about contemplation but how contemplation, the spiritual and religious- prayers and dreams- are in the midst of a world that seems contradict them.
After last night while I had contemplated the piece previously it came alive at the Funky Buddha Lounge, it spoke of life and asked us to listen even when other voices threatened to drown it out, but just when one thought the crowd noise would overwhelm, either something of the music hushed the crowd or the piece itself became loud again. I was amazed, and I wonder what Funky Buddha's regulars thought as they arrived to chamber music playing in thier club.
BTW, met the owner of the club Mark, very cool and insane guy, I am not sure many other club owners would have risked this but that seems to be who he is.