Los Angeles Philharmonic to Perform a Piece of Music that Involves Dropping Melons on the Ground

iStock/VinokurovYury
iStock/VinokurovYury

This weekend, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will perform a piece of music that involves dropping melons from a great height and listening to the sound they make.

That’s nearly a word-for-word description of the performance instructions for Ken Friedman’s 1966 piece, Sonata for Melons and Gravity, which will be performed on Saturday, November 17. The instructions simply say: “Drop melons / from a great height. / Listen to the sound.” [PDF]

The performance is part of the L.A. Philharmonic’s Fluxus Festival. Staged in collaboration with the Getty Research Institute, the melon-fueled Fluxconcert will be “one of the largest Fluxus events ever to be put on by a major symphony orchestra,” according to a press release.

Fluxus defies definition. The progeny of Dada—the anti-art bad boy of the early 20th century—Fluxus was a rebellious experimental art movement that took pleasure in mocking the idea of “high art.” Generally, it employs mixed media and absurd humor to challenge ideas of what is, and isn’t, art. (Case and point: Fluxus co-founder George Maciunas once composed a piece entitled Solo for Balloons.) More than make you giggle, these irreverent works aim to break down the stuffy boundaries between everyday life and the concert hall.

With that spirit in mind, the L.A. Philharmonic is the perfect place for a Fluxus concert. The Philharmonic is an institution known for breaking the barriers of what an orchestra can and should be doing. For the past few years, the group has been defying the stereotype that an orchestra is a domain dedicated to the desiccated works of dead men: This season, the L.A. Philharmonic will feature works by 61 living composers—including more than 50 entirely new pieces—plus 22 works by women.

(For comparison, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's current season is programmed to include pieces by just four living composers and a total of zero women. Brian Lauritzen of Classical KUSC points out that, in 2017, the L.A. Phil programmed more compositions by women than the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra combined.)

In addition to the melon drop, there will be a performance of Alison Knowles’s Wounded Furniture, Shoes of Your Choice, and Nivea Cream Piece as well as George Maciuna’s Solo for Conductor. And while there’s no word what kind of fruit will be used for Sonata for Melons and Gravity, we’re placing bets on honeydew.

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Queen Throws Its Support Behind a Breakthru-Inspired LEGO Set

Adam Hickey
Adam Hickey

A fan-made, motorized LEGO set that pays homage to the Queen song "Breakthru" just made its own breakthrough, so to speak. As WROR in Massachusetts reports, a LEGO version of the train that appeared in the 1989 music video—complete with minifigures of Freddie Mercury and the gang—has received a thumbs up from the band.

The official Queen Instagram page posted a photo of the LEGO-ized “Miracle Express” and urged fans to support the project on LEGO Ideas, where it currently has more than 2000 backers. Once a design reaches 10,000 supporters, it enters the review stage, at which point it can potentially be approved and mass-produced by LEGO. The online Ideas platform is how the Beatles-inspired Yellow Submarine set got produced in 2016.

The Breakthru set was created by Adam Hickey, an actor and creative writer from the UK (not to mention a big Queen fan). “'Breakthru' has always been one of my favorite Queen videos and songs,” Hickey tells Mental Floss. “I felt that the Queen Miracle Express is as iconic as the Yellow Submarine is for The Beatles.”

Hickey built the set from scratch using pieces he borrowed from various LEGO sets, as well as a few pieces he ordered specifically for the engine. Figuring out how to make the train move was one of the trickiest parts.

“It was the first time I had ever made a model from scratch which uses motors, so I had to do a lot of research about how to use them, including how to have the train move around corners without derailing, which meant rebuilding my model,” Hickey says. “The pistons, in particular, were incredibly difficult to build.”

Hickey has also been responding to feedback from fans, and plans to give Brian May's minifigure a slight hairdo makeover, per one person’s suggestion. There are five minifigures in total, including one of actress Debbie Lang, who appeared as the masked woman in the music video.

Check out some of the photos below, and visit the LEGO Ideas website to support the project. For more LEGO Ideas designs that have made it into production, explore the LEGO Shop.

Queen mini figures
Adam Hickey

The Miracle Express LEGO train
Adam Hickey

[h/t WROR]

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