Colorado Symphony Orchestra's pot concert begs the question: Why is this still a big deal?
I can't help but think about last night's mash up of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the marijuana industry as a giant piece of performance art, though I know that wasn't anyone's intent.
On the surface, the idea behind the "Classically Cannabis" series -- of which this was the first -- was to bring two "cultures" together. They did accomplish that goal, even though I'm pretty sure marijuana and classical music have been combined plenty in the past. But even if a handful of the 250 cannabis-lovers in attendance truly opened their eyes classical music, that wasn't the main outcome of the concert. What the event really did was point out how absurdly we've been treating cannabis since limited amounts of pot were legalized for adults 21 and up in 2012.
Take away the media attention and the controversy of the CSO linking up with a few cannabis businesses for a fundraiser, and what you had last night was a fine art event much like any other. Music was the focal point, of course, but the Space gallery also had some amazing artwork on display, from sculptures to photography to beautiful, wall-sized oil paintings and murals. People mingled and schmoozed. The open bar served drinks, and food trucks served up free meals around the back of the venue. Certainly it was a cool event on its own merits and likely not a huge departure from events the CSO normally holds.
Except, of course, for the pot. And there was plenty of that.
I parked a block away and started my walk over, and the clouds of smoke had already begun wafting south down Santa Fe. A few steps closer and I was overcome by the familiar smell of past High Times Cannabis Cup events -- but this time, there was the sounds of a brass ensemble in the background instead of the boom-boom-bap of hip-hop. The Space gallery is a beautiful building that stands like a sharp glass and steel monolith on an otherwise-dreary stretch of Santa Fe. Smoking (and vaping) were allowed on the fenced-in patio wrapping around the venue. It was covered from public view by plastic sheeting.
Though I'm sure everyone there would have told you that they love classical music, it was pretty clear that most people were excited for the idea of the event more than the music itself. In that sense, it wasn't really a concert. People didn't sit down quietly for the five-piece brass chamber orchestra (except for one slightly stoned-looking, retired-age couple who plopped down on the floor in front of the band for the second set). Instead, the focus was on conversation, chiefly centered on the fact that the event was actually happening at all. There was also a lot of business schmoozing -- there were plenty of dispensary owners, attorneys and other pot big-wigs mingling around outside, streaming trails of smoke from finger-sized joints.