Samples Descriptive Concert Report

Concert Report

616 words 3 page(s)

1. Wattstax at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (1972): soul, gospel, blues, jazz, funk.

Watts Summer Festival was never organized on such a level: an idea of a small concert for a local summer festival turned into the historically significant event. It featured the brightest stars of American black South: Kim Weston, Jimmy Jones, Johnnie Taylor, The Rance Allen Group, Albert King, and other celebrated Stax Records’ signature talents. The festival drew more than 100,000 people, blacks being the overwhelming majority. People of all ages from different social classes were united by the powerful feeling of community. For the label, performers, and audiences alike, Wattstax became something more than a musical event. It united those styles of music which were part of community’s life: spiritual excitement of gospel, hot energy of funk, sensitive warmness of soul, and melancholic blues. Though it was modeled as a black twin of Woodstock, it was different in many aspects but no less exciting. Perhaps it was due to the specificity of location, better organization, or community spirit, but Wattstax showed much greater interaction between audience and performers. At the same time, it managed to preserve the democracy of Woodstock. For example, it was amazing to see how people responded in one voice to Rufus Thomas’ exclamations and then raced downwards to the stadium’s playing field at his signal.

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2. Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80 European tour (1984): Afrobeat.

Kuti invented Afrobeat as an electric mixture of African indigenous music, jazz, and funk. Those who first saw his “Egypt 80” performances onstage were excited by the exotic novelty of his style. At the same time, many elements in his music and attitude were quite familiar. The time Fela spent studying in London and his trip to the United States made him aware of Western musical culture and show business. He was a rock star but in a very peculiar manner. In Nigeria, he was a great political force. For Europe, he was an entertainment. But he was not going to present himself as mere entertainment. This music does not fit into frames of any genre. The songs are long, complicated, but with simple compelling lyrics. Each song is a statement – a combination of political speech and a chant. The performance is a wild mixture of traditional tribal dances (performed by Kuti’s “wives”), and jam session. Fela’s behavior onstage and the magnitude of his personality makes him a central figure, a “rock star” of his band.

3. Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus piano concert by Royal Scottish National Orchestra (1998): classical

Einojuhani Rautavaara was a neo-romantic Finnish composer. Cantus Arcticus is one of his major works. It is notable for the records of bird songs and sounds integrated into the music. For that reason, Cantus Arcticus is often called “a Concerto for Birds and Orchestra” (Morrison n/p). The concert is divided into three movements: Suo (“The Marsh”), Melankolia, and Joutsenet muuttavat (“Swans Migrating”). The first movement starts with flutes blend with the sound of bog birds in spring. The second one uses a lowered voice of a shore lark, which Rautavaara called “a ghost bird.” The third movement is built around the sound of a large flock of swans. What is most beautiful and unique about this music is the role of birds’ records in the arrangement. They do not serve as an ambient element to “decorate” the sound. Instead, they play the role of a leading instrument. It would be more appropriate to call the orchestra an ambient decoration instead. Its music smoothers the cacophony of nature, empowers it, and interprets its mood, but the melody is subordinate to the birdsong. Its seemingly simple harmony is a product of the orchestra’s brilliant accuracy and crystal clearness.