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Classical 101

Short Rides in a Fast Machine

[video is dead] Noticing that John Adams' adrenaline-pumping orchestral tour de force Short Ride in a Fast Machine was slated to air on WOSU 89.7 FM, I found myself wondering if any sage, savant or scalliwag had created a video to accompany this music. Because there truly is nothing new under the sun, I was not surprised to find several videos, ranging from the low-budget to the high-tech, inspired by Adams' music. I thought I'd share a few with you here, just for kicks. Here's a video by 10to 1 Productions, which you'll notice in the trailer is on offer to accompany live orchestral performances of Short Ride in a Fast Machine. The orchestra-concert-as-MTV-video phenomenon is becoming increasingly common; we've even experienced it here in Central Ohio in the last several years, with performances of works like Peter Schickele's Thurber's Dogs, performed a few years ago by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus to accompany a charming, Ohio State University-produced video of original computer animations of James Thurber's famous cartoon hound. In 10to 1 Production's video for Short Ride, distinctly musical-looking hardware - the valves and bells of trumpets and horns, the slides of trombones - coalesces into a riding machine very different from the sports car that inspired Adams to compose the piece. [youtube Pi4A9bPDvTc 490 344] Another video, from OnTev Inc.'s Pyro Division, shows a design for a fireworks display set to Adams' score.Fireworks set to classical music - who'dda thunk? I must confess that at first I just didn't get it. But on further reflection, why not? This is exciting and spectacular music, so something as literally spectacular as fireworks now seems to me an accompaniment so apt that I wonder why I didn't come up with the idea. Here's the video: [youtube UXenb58LbKA 490 344] I place this next video last on my list not because it is my least favorite among the three videos presented here, but rather because I wanted to give it something of a place of honor in this little survey. The beauty (and, admittedly, in some instances the bane) of Web 2.0 technology is that anyone can be a "published" videographer - yes, anyone, including the person who shot and uploaded the following video inspired by Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine. You might find the self-consciously slow pace of the introduction quite funny, and you also might come to the conclusion, as I did, that the actual footage rolled out here has an ethos reminiscent of Ben Hur (remember those 20 minutes of chariot racing?). But what I like about this video is the impression it gives that someone who thought John Adams' piece was extremely cool and who idolized his old clunker Subaru in the same way parents assume their children are geniuses just grabbed his cameraphone (or whatever) one day and went for it. That's spontaneity for you. And if that's not classical music being woven into the fabric of one's daily life, I don't know what is. [youtube b8IuJ4IyIqE 490 344] So if you happen to hear John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine on WOSU 89.7 FM, sure - enjoy this phenomenal music. Maybe it will inspire you to create your own art. Just watch for the speed limit signs along the way. - Jennifer Hambrick