Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.
CP: It was quite a climb to the second tier at the new Ordway concert hall. But oh, what a sweet seat once we got there.
RN: My perch, a night later, was nearly in the same spot, and, can I just say? Chills.
CP: I often catch the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the acoustically fine — and closer-to-home — Ted Mann, but now I may trek to the lesser of two cities for the occasional evening of music-making.
RN: Once again with the elbow to the Saintly City.
CP: Major props to Ordway and SPCO officials for what may seem a small thing.
RN: I hesitate to ask.
CP: They began with the musicians walking onstage and launching into the Prokofiev without the dull and predictable curtain speech that has become all too common these days. This drama was underscored by having the musicians standing, not seated.
RN: Well, we got the speech just after that. Miraculously, it was a heartfelt marvel — I got a little teary — from second principal violinist Kyu-Young Kim. Then he introduced Charles Ives' eerie "The Unanswered Question," which showed the hall's remarkable acoustics to splendid advantage. Go ahead, SPCO, brag away. It's a totally valid reaction.
CP: Some sage called the new hall "sensual." I agree. The wood and metal finishes, the lava-lamp bevel of the balcony edges, the squiggly swoop of the ceiling, the warm hug of the concert stage, the articulation of the sound. I could go on.
RN: To that I would add intimate. I felt as if I was on a blind date with 36 musicians, that's how close my seat felt to the stage.
CP: Being in the uppermost tier also gave me an unprecedented view of the private lives of the French horn players. Who knew how much saliva management went on back there during a lengthy Beethoven symphony?
RN: Ludwig could have nixed the second movement of his "Eroica" — bleak, much? — and it would still feel too long. But I digress.
CP: Who can watch concertmaster Steven Copes, poised so close to the edge of his chair that he seems in danger of falling off, and not be enchanted? He even lifts a foot off the floor at times, and does a kind of midair dance with it.
RN: More important, what are your notes on the carpet in the addition's lobby? It's the same Ordway blue, but with a playful black polka-dot pattern. Love.
CP: You kidding? I Instagrammed it. Totes nonbland. Also, the cramped and noisy street-level lobby doesn't hold a fiddle to the bigger, carpeted ones on the upper two levels.
RN: What I also appreciate about the vision of architect Tim Carl is how the HGA CEO seamlessly and unselfishly incorporated his addition into Benjamin Thompson's original Ordway facade.
CP: Visitors also should check out the hidden wraparound cul-de-sac — dubbed "the kissing corner" — that offers a picturesque peek of the St. Paul Cathedral.
RN: I should have known you'd know about that.
Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib