Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Symphony: An Adventure in Class

A few weeks ago, I went to the symphony. (Let's all just have a moment of pretending that this actually happened a couple of weeks ago. I suppose we could be liberal with our definition of "a couple", but alas, it was longer ago than this sentence reflects by another couple of weeks.)

It was the first time I have been to the symphony for a purely musical performance in my own recollection, which if not failing me, means I have never been. It was an exciting night of pretending that I was surrounded by people who would be on page 6 tomorrow, or seeing people wearing furs. I can dream. It was opening night of the symphony, and it should have been like that, darn it. But instead, it was magical for other reasons.

The night started with dinner. After walking around downtown, we selected a classy looking restaurant, where the lights were too dim for my liking and the waiters were all wearing black. Also, the menu was about 3 feet tall and appeared to be made of plywood and fine leather. I wasn't sure about the distinguished way to hold such a giant menu, so I chose my meal based on the first item I could read. Problem solved. I wish I could describe that which I ate, but had you read the first paragraph above, you'd realize the number of meals I've had since then. I would like to say it stood out and I can remember it, but I am saving those brain cells for something more important, like remembering that Iowa has 99 counties. Or the lyrics to basically every Backstreet Boy song. But I can say that the restaurant portion of the evening was a winner, I was able to not make a fool of myself. (Not that it happens a lot, but I think it happens proportionately more when I am wearing a dress or heels. It's probably one of the official Murphy's Laws.)

After dinner, we headed to Symphony Hall.

Being that it was opening night, there was class. Most of the class was in the age category of 70+, but I would like to point out that sometimes that is the best sort of class. They really know how to do it.

After finding out seats, we waited. I found it odd that the members of the orchestra were just tuning away, creating quite the din. (The beginning of Fantasia, anyone?) I did however, enjoy when they figured out it was time to settle in and be a bit more civilized in front of such a large group. The concertmaster came out, followed by the guest conductor, Sarah Hicks. I can't say that I ever remember seeing someone in the (classical) musical world and hoping to be them, but she was pretty cool. Born in Tokyo and raised in Hawaii, then she went to Harvard, and to top that all off, she was pretty and funny. Also, musically inclined more than I can ever hope to be.

This was the picture they put in the program. See what I mean?

And now, my favorite part of the evening. She came on stage, we clapped, I was getting ready for a nice evening of sitting and listening; I never imagined group participation on opening night of the symphony. However, the drummer did a few taps, and the crowd started rising. After a quick moment of pure confusion and happiness that I was close to the door, I realized the real purpose of our standing. (At this point, I became a follower. Just stand when the classy people stand.)

We sang the national anthem. 

And if there's anything I like, it's when people sing in groups. Gospel choirs, audiences at rock concerts, a cappella groups, the part in Sound of Music when the audience is invited to sing Edelweiss with the von Trapps at the music festival (skip to about 1:20). Here I was, with 2,000 people singing together. We can talk about the fact that it was a patriotic song, and though I am not the most patriotic person in this country, sometimes they are just some sort of moving. And while we sang, Sarah Hicks used her baton and conducted us. 

Pure. Magic. I could have left right then. But, I didn't. I stayed until half-time. Just kidding, I stayed the entire time, and learned that it's called intermission, not half-time.

At this point, the music that was played isn't even my main point. She conducted her version of the "three Bs": Beethoven, Brahms and Bernstein. Overall, I enjoyed the music. There's something not so thrilling about hearing a 20 minute long classical song that you've never heard before, but I just reminded myself a few times about the class that I was exuding just by being there. I wanted the others to believe it too. The Bernstein that she played was from West Side Story, so that jazzed things up just a bit, complete with a man close to old playing the drums like he belonged in a rock band. He had quite a bit of energy, that one.

This entire event happened almost 3 months ago, and I thought I would make it to a holiday show at the symphony to somewhat redeem myself, but haven't made it (yet). There's still time, just check back in another three months to see if I've posted.

Overall, the symphony is the place to be. And if you can, opening night would be best as it probably has a very high level of class relative to other such events. (Opening night happens sometime in the fall I believe, take note of the mention of the time lapse between the actual event and this posting above.)

Cheers to a classy night.

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