Performed by Aidan Gold, Jake Safirstein, Gabrielle Chou, Lindan Burns, Dominic Law, and Baron Fenwick.

When I was first getting into big orchestral music concerts, one of the things that consistently struck me was the often highly narrativized drama of the program notes. Even (or perhaps especially) with so-called “absolute” music, the program notes would describe epic battles between themes, key areas, or instruments, triumphant returns and arrivals, outbursts of terror, and distant havens of peace and serenity, often with an excessive helping of reverence for the “genius” composer. Little Aidan was captivated by these narratives and would try to follow along with the program notes during the entire 80-minute Mahler symphony as closely as possible to experience and understand the “story” it was telling.

When you go to the opera, you open your program book and read a full synopsis before it starts, which tells you everything that is going to happen, including how the main character dies at the end. Yet in the world of books and films, there is a tremendous concern for spoilers – we must experience the story with it as it unfolds, without knowing where it is going to go.

What does it even mean to experience the “story” of a piece of music in real time? Is it even possible to listen in the same way we would read a program note? What does that do to our experience? What in these supposed narratives is actually meaningful to us?

The story of the music is music itself.

For additional information, questions, or parts requests, contact Aidan.