It's Saturday night, and I'm tucked up in my room at Stone Hotel, looking back over the weekend. This morning, I attended a breakfast for parents, followed by an informative session about college applications and financial aid. Then Snowman took me to the library to listen to a recording of the orchestra concert from two weeks ago. First we listened to the Barber Second Essay, then to the third movement of the Brahms First Symphony, and after that to the second movement. I'm not sure why, I only know that listening to his solo part brought tears to my eyes.
During a wonderful conference with his New Clarinet Teacher, I shed more tears, and so did she, tears of mingled joy and relief that he loves working with her despite the grief he experienced when his previous teacher moved on to the University of Texas.
At lunch we talked about college, and then we parted, Snowman to warm up for the family Collage performance this afternoon, yours truly to rest briefly before attending same.
The orchestra's piece ended the presentation, a beautifully varied and smoothly coordinated 90 minutes. As the last actor finished his monologue, I looked over to the darkened stage, where the curtain had pulled back to reveal the orchestra.
"Hmmm," I thought. "I don't remember an entrance by the conductor last night. I wonder why he isn't there yet?"
As it turned out, I was not alone in wondering.
The lights came up on the orchestra, and before enough time had passed to worry the audience, one of the first violins (not the concertmaster) took command. She raised her bow, and all the orchestra followed her lead.
Snowman tells me it was magical. People listened to each other, he said, in a way they don't usually in the orchestra. Snowman and his good friend, J., the principal bassoonist, sat next to each other with ecstatic expressions! Near the end of this excerpt from the Barber, I saw the tympanist cuing the rest of the orchestra. They finished brilliantly! Perhaps the horns, in an state of excitement, provided a bit more volume than last night, but really, their capacity to work together, on literally NO notice, amazed me.
Outside after Collage the conversation naturally turned to the conductor's absence. I've yet to hear a full explanation, but it seems likely he assumed this performance, like the others, would be in the evening. He is new. The kids hope he won't be in dire trouble.
I'm not sure what I think. I've been on the board of an arts organization, and if I held a similar position at Land O'Lakes, I might be pretty upset tonight. What an awful mistake to make!
It reminds me of the preacher's nightmare of missing church. One summer during seminary, I put my name on the Conference supply list, and I accepted two dates at one church, about a month apart. I preached on a Sunday in late June at 10 a.m. No one told me that the church service started an hour earlier in July and August.
Yes, it was bad. I arrived when the service was half over. An industrious church member ran home at the last minute and printed out a copy of the sermon he had given on Laity Sunday some years before. They waved me in the side door of the chancel, had me give the pastoral prayer and the Benediction, took me to a church member's house for a special coffee hour and insisted I keep the check written for me.
Tonight I'm asking the question: did someone make sure the new, young conductor knew the (familiar to others) landscape of the weekend?
I'll be interested to hear how it all resolves.
(In the picture, left to right: C, who gave the Hamlet monologue; Snowman; J, bassoonist, who visited us this summer; and N, roommate of C, giving us a little "Oliver" moment.)