I have attended a concert of Jean Michel Jarre in Helsinki, in Hartwall Arena. I arrived to Helsinki in the afternoon and had fun attending several museums. I will describe that other part in the next post.
Hartwall Arena is a medium-sized stadium with a roof. Therefore, this concert was indeed private as typically Jarre performs in front of multi-million audiences using city landscape as the background image of his laser shows. I guess the music that he played was specially designed to match with such in-doors environment. To start with, I was impressed that the sound was of very good quality in every part of the stadium. That’s because of the backstage sound system that he uses. In classical music, lots of effort is spent on designing the shape of concert hall ceiling to improve sound quality.
The music itself revealed the great talent of Jarre the composer. To me it sounded a bit like Shostakovich. Jarre uses lots of traditional folk tunes and reinforces them with electrical instruments. A few of his instruments sound like church bells, others like French accordeon played in Paris. Obviously, Jarre has processed lots of music in his head and compiled it to present to the general public.
The audience in Helsinki was more ordinary than I expected. We have to admit that the concert hall was half-empty, especially the upper rows. I guess the classic music audience decided not to attend this pop music show. They were wrong. Jean Michel only tries to promote the music as art no matter which genre it is. His performances are above such division. Thus, the people who attended the concert looked like office workers, or even factory people. But during the concert they were raving. They loved the music that Jarre played. Thus, the goal of unification people with music was achieved. Chances are that these people will decide to play music or even become composers themselves.
The instruments used in the concert were fantastic.
The laser harp is a powerful instrument which is intuitive to play. In computer science, everybody is trying to simplify the computers and operating systems. For example touch screen cellphones do not require any learning before becoming an essential tool. And so is the laser harp. Reinforced with artificial intelligence it starts shining when the musician approaches it. When it is being touched, a background music is played to match the tune that the musician improvised. I read on Wikipedia that this is not a new instrument but I saw it the first time. I think that such instruments can start a new phase of composers. Everybody is listening to the music of Mozart and Bach for several centuries. But new classical composers do not appear. This is because the environment for which the classical instruments were designed has changed. New environment demands new instruments and laser harp is a perfect example of such instrument.
Another important component of the show were the lasers. I also liked the huge backstage screen that changed its color arbitrarily. The trick of combining images with music is used nowdays even in classic music concerts, for example in Carnegie Hall a portrait of the composer is displayed when his music is played.
With lasers and lights, Jean Michel was able to display complex images resembling Egyptian pyramids or extraterrestial landscape. In addition to processing lots of existing music he made a huge step forward because it looked like his music came from space.
There is only one drawback of attending a live performance. Its quality is so good that you cannot listen to any home sound system afterward. After I arrived to home I turned on the radio. It was playing a song. To me it sounded as if it needed energy badly, as if its batteries were running out of power. But it was connected to electrical grid. Nothing can match the power of sound and beauty of lasers that Jean Michel Jarre was able to achieve.