Monday, October 11, 2010

A whole other type of geekery

Yesterday, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the Mariinsky (formerly the Kirov) Orchestra, under the direction of Valery Gergiev. They performed Mahler's Symphony No. 5, as well as Rachmaninoff's Piano Concert No. 3, with Denis Matsuev at the keyboard. The Rachmaninoff, in particular, was brilliantly played, and received the lengthiest standing ovation I've ever been a part of.

When I was younger, I used to listen to classical music all the time. I grew up in a house where you were as likely to hear Beethoven as you were to hear the Beatles. My father was (and is) the very definition of a music junkie, and so many of my earliest memories involve dancing around the dining room table to T-Bone Burnett's "It's Not Too Late" (shamefully, not available on YouTube), John Hiatt's "Something Wild"(available only with video of James Spader doing stuff in a car), and REM's cover of "Wall of Death". But they also involve cleaning house to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, reading to Vivaldi's Concertos for Lute & Mandolin, and falling asleep to Glenn Gould's idiosyncratic rendition of the Goldberg Variations.

If this seems like an egregious display of cultural capital, well, in some ways it is. I was lucky to grow up in a house were nerding out over bluegrass was as acceptable as nerding out over classical music, and where collecting all of the YA fantasy books Tamora Pierce has ever written was equally as valuable as having the complete Shakespeare. My parents encouraged, to use a concept I generally hate, cultural omnivorousness. The end result is that I like to geekily embrace political theory alongside my sci-fi, and sometimes I like to put on a skirt and some heels for an afternoon of classical music, when I'm not carting my newly tattooed self to an indie concert.

But being a fan of sci-fi and obscure bootlegs of Springsteen makes you a nerd; being a fan of Foucault and Mozart's operas makes you an aficionado. And that distinction (in the Bourdieusian sense), kinda sucks.

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