Tim Van Schmidt
I finally took the plunge. Going out to hear some live music — inside, that is. I couldn’t think of a better venue to dive back into it with than The Lincoln Center in Fort Collins.
The last concert I saw at The Lincoln Center was Joshua Bell in January 2020. Bell is a skilled, expressive violinist and he was playing a very old and beautiful sounding instrument that night.
I bring it up because it points out something I like about The Lincoln Center. For Joshua Bell, I was sitting up in one of the top corners — and I heard every note coming from that violin. The Lincoln Center has fine sound and good sightlines no matter where you are in the hall.
The Lincoln Center had a hand in providing an excellent outdoor dress rehearsal for my recent sojourn to the indoor performance hall. I’m talking about the excellent Herbie Hancock concert at Spring Creek Gardens last September.
But finally, on February 11, I entered The Lincoln Center itself for a concert by the innovative and hallowed Kronos Quartet.
At this time, The Lincoln Center is continuing to require masks and proof of vaccination. For the Kronos concert, there was a quick ticket check at the door, then a brief visit to some tables set up to verify IDs and vax info. There you receive a wristband to enter the main performance hall.
There’s a reason why Kronos is revered — they simply continue to challenge listeners with innovative sounds, bringing music to the stage by cutting edge composers from around the world — often specially commissioned just for the group.
I saw Kronos a number of years ago, also at The Lincoln Center. At that time I called them my concert of the year — they were so very interesting. In 2022, they are still interesting, though under radically different situations. Even the group wore masks.
From painting an abstract musical landscape with a tune titled “Oasis” to covering “The House of the Rising Sun” with flourish and passion, Kronos did not do the same thing twice. They played a beautiful, ethereal lyrical piece and one called “Potassium” with a grating industrial sound that curled my toes.
And it wasn’t just about the four musicians on the stage. Recordings were also layered into the mix, including sound effects and various voices sometimes saying not so abstract things. One piece took to task the crimes of history. Another featured the voice of venerable folk music artist Pete Seeger.
Somewhere in there, Seeger said that “folk music” would someday influence composers and be played on stages by orchestras. Kronos Quartet in 2022 is making sure that happens.
The very next night, February 12, I returned to The Lincoln Center to see The Queen’s Cartoonists and it was a case of going from the sublime to the silly — but silly in a good way.
The Queen’s Cartoonists — from Queens, NY — is an interesting act. They are a crack six-piece band, members sometimes playing multiple instruments, performing live soundtracks to a variety of vintage cartoons.
It’s a kid-friendly show, with some goofy sight gags in between tunes, but there was plenty for adults to enjoy.
Sure, kids-stuff cartoons featuring Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny — with the music racing along through quick changes and plenty of dynamics — were just what you would expect. But the “Betty Boop in Snow-White” cartoon, from 1933, was something else again. It’s just a very strange and surreal film that may have gone over the heads of younger members of the audience.
While the Queen’s Cartoonists stuck mostly to the styles of music in the original cartoons, perhaps the most riveting sequence of the evening was their band-composed piece accompanying a captivating and soothing work of animation about celestial “romance” — revealing a depth, grace, and expression not so obvious in the rest of the material. I would love to see a whole show of just that kind of stuff.
The bottom line for me, after two shows, was that it felt good to get back to hearing some live music, despite venue restrictions.
I also have tickets to see the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis — which is sold out — and Benise. I wish I could report on those shows too, but the North Forty News deadline calls.
Coming up on The Lincoln Center schedule: Choir! Choir! Choir! on February 26, TAKE3 on March 3, Cirque Mechanics on March 6, Colin Hay on March 18, Demetri Martin on March 26, George Lopez on April 2, Rita Rudner on April 9, and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band on May 5. That’s just a sample. See the full schedule at lctix.com.
A few other notable area concerts that are coming up:
At the Aggie Theater, G. Love and the Juice on March 4, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band on March 25, and Henry Rollins on May 6.
At the Rialto Theater in Loveland, see “On a Winter’s Night” featuring four great singer-songwriters — Cliff Eberhardt, John Gorka, Christine Lavin, and Patty Larkin — on March 26.
But here’s the big one: Weird Al Yankovic, on his “Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour”, will play the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley on September 9.
The point here is that the pandemic has made a mess out of the performing arts in the last couple of years, but performers — and venues — are still here, ready and willing to amaze and inspire.
At least now, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe it’s time to stock up on tickets again. The Lincoln Center is a great place to start in 2022.
Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins. Check out his channel on YouTube at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt”.