Have you ever observed an actor studying his character? Imagine how an actor would need to immerse himself completely into a role to master a character.
I once observed Sean Penn doing just that.
With a weekly commute from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, I used to spend a lot of time in airports observing people. One day I saw a man who resembled Sean Penn at LAX. He looked like an average guy from Jersey – blue jeans, a basic t-shirt with an untucked plaid shirt and a dark brown belt with an average looking buckle. Nothing strange there.
But something was off. Actually, three things about this guy were off. His hair was perfectly out of place. It looked too perfect. It’s hard to explain but my gut told me he paid $300 for that hair style.
He was carrying a paper grocery bag instead of a backpack or a courier bag. The paper bag was crisply folded which struck me as really odd.
His shoes looked really expensive, too. They were simple leather shoes but they screamed “quality.” The hair, grocery bag and shoes didn’t seem to fit the rest of him, and I was perplexed. I found myself staring.
He turned his head toward me and glared back as if to say, “Stop staring at me and I mean it!”
My read of the situation was “Sean Penn must be working on a character and didn’t want to call attention to himself.”
The conductor told us that George Gershwin did the same kind of “immersion into a character” but more like an “immersion into a culture,” when he was writing a symphony. He specifically wrote music for his time — the time he lived, and he lived at a really interesting time.
Listen to Rhapsody in Blue and you’ll hear the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
Listen to Porgy and Bess and you’ll hear hints of old folk songs from South Carolina.
Listen to an American In Paris and you’ll hear not just beautiful tunes from a talented composer, but you’ll feel like you are walking the post-World War I streets of Paris.
At the concert, I enjoyed my wonderful Deer Valley Gourmet Picnic Basket, stuffed with an artisan cheese plate, salmon, shaved fennel, Kalamata olives, basil chiffonade, beet and goat cheese salad, “to die for” housemade garlic rosemary focaccia bread and a variety of delicious desserts, too numerous to name.
I wondered if Gershwin were to immerse himself in Park City, Utah, in 2017, what would he compose about a beautiful summer evening at Deer Valley Resort?
When we listen to music of our day, we can consider the greater context of the time we are living in. It’s an age of possibility, isn’t it? In the future, when we listen to the music composed today, what will the music tell us about the time we are living in? Ponder that one.
For more on the Deer Valley Music Festival and other Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater shows, click here.
To order your picnic basket ahead of time, click here.
To learn more about George Gershwin, click here.