Mozart in the Jungle

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MV5BMTQ5NzU2ODMyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODc0Mjg1MzE@._V1_SX640_SY720_I was as shocked as anyone to hear that “Mozart in the Jungle” had won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy, this past Sunday. The show, produced by Amazon Prime Video, is a “binge” style watch à la Netflix. Now in its second season, it has developed into a quirky comedy program, but still a little flawed – which is why it was a surprising winner.

Some may have been put off by the first few weaker episodes in the initial season when it began last year. I decided to stick with it, (full disclosure: I went to school with Lola Kirke ,who plays Hayley Rutledge, the budding star oboist) as I am a fan of writer Jason Schwarztman (who also has a recurring role), Gael García Bernal (who walked away with a Best Actor in a Comedy Series Globe, for his role as the erratic maestro Rodrigo De Souza) and of course, Bernadette Peters (the Symphony’s cutting fundraising officer, Gloria Windsor).

I have never read the book, by Blair Tindall, on which the show is based, but I find the scandalous insight to the world of New York’s classical music scene intriguing to say the least. And very different from my own work backstage with an orchestra – except for the union politics, that is. Whether or not members of your local symphony are the raucous group showcased in “Mozart in the Jungle,” the show is still noteworthy as it does its best to put new lights on classical music.

Unfortunately, not many young people I know would choose a night at Carnegie Hall over a night at Madison Square Garden, but there is hope when watching this portrayal of what is a conceived “upper-crust and stuffy” lifestyle by many. That someone may tune in to see the raucous behavior of these characters and walk away humming Tchaikovsky is a win for the blending of high and low culture that “Mozart in the Jungle” embodies. I’m not saying it will be turning every 20-something in New York into Philharmonic subscribers, but at the very least Mozart may pop up in some (non-virtual) dinner party playlists. So come for the nonsense, but stay for music, because that’s (one hopes) what viewers will remember when the show ends.

Bonus: The new, second season of the show features wonderfully designed, Suprematist-esque opening titles, new each episode. The theme song is another blend of high and low, as it is a classical cover of contemporary rock-and-roll band Phoenix’s song, “Lisztomania,” yet another production attempt to engage a diverse audience.  Read more about the design and song choice here.

Shannon Thomas

 

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2 Responses to “Mozart in the Jungle”

  1. OOPS……….I ate the whole thing. Started at 5am a few days ago to “try it out” as a friend mentioned it over dinner and found myself watching the first year with only a stop to make coffee. I was back the next morning to watch season 2. No, it’s not brilliant but it’s surely entertaining and the actors and music are very appealing. If you’re as compulsive as I am, watch at your own risk

  2. Thanks for the recommendation to ‘stick with this series.’ The first episode didn’t grab me, but I’ll take your advice. VDP is a good resource, to be sure!

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