Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thursday Symphony Adventure: What does the Sibelius Fifth Symphony Have to do with Emotion Focused Therapy?

-->Entry for 21-23 March 2013:

Diane’s away in the US helping her mother, and I’ve been away working in various places for the past 3 weekends, so Adventures have been a bit scarce lately.

On Thursday, however, there was a concert of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, featuring the Sibelius Fifth Symphony, conducted by the rising Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu. 

The Sibelius Fifth is one of my most favourite pieces of music, ever since I bought my first recording of it in 1971.  It has sweeping melodies, pumping rhythms, and lots of emotional dynamics, from quiet solos to intense crescendos …. and one of the most amazing endings in the whole symphonic repertoire.

So when I saw this on the schedule 6 weeks ago, I marked it on my schedule and resolved to go.  City Halls, the home of the BBC Scottish SO, is only a five-minute walk from my office, after all. 

Various complications intervened during the week to throw my Symphony Adventure into jeopardy, but in the end I made it with five minutes to spare, sitting down next to two little old ladies who were pleased indeed with their £7 concession tickets. 

The BBC Scottish SO looked stylish but casual dressed in the their black tops and trousers for this afternoon concert.  Hannu Lintu bounded out form the wings, very tall and Nordic, big hands, baton at times threatening to collide with the microphones over the stage.  He danced his way through the Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin and Haydn’s Symphony 98, both very tasty, the latter quite amusing actually.  Then, after the intermission, what I’d been waiting for: the Sibelius 5th Symphony. 

I think Sibelius is a composer whose music really is even better when experienced live up front in concert.  He passes melodies all around the orchestra in a way that’s hard to capture in recordings.  The plucked pizzicati are more dramatic.  There are several places in the piece, one in the first movement and then again in the final movement where it all builds up to such a level of intensity and you can see the intensity of everyone in the orchestra playing in unison for all they’re worth.  It’s almost unbearably powerful.  It reminded me of those moments of really intense emotional contact in therapy when the client contacts their core pain, and something inside them shifts and you go with them, you feel it in your body and all over.

According to the program notes, the Fifth Symphony was inspired by a spiritual experience Sibelius had in 1915, in which he saw a ring of 16 swans flying high in the air in a large circle.  It took him five years to get it right to his satisfaction, but this was the inspiration for soaring melody of the last movement.  This performance, which the audience applauded enthusiastically for several minutes, was certainly the high point of my week, and as I walked back to my office, appropriately enough through the bitter Nordic wind and blowing snow, I felt elated and inspired.  As I said the next day to this year’s EFT Level 3 supervision group, it’s these moments of intense contact that makes life worth living.  Long live Sibelius and EFT!

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