Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Windy Monday

The week got off to a very cultural start when I accepted friend Stacy’s invitation to attend a “Soiree” (yes, the event was truly, officially, called a "soiree"), followed by a woodwind concert by a chamber ensemble. I like finger foods and wine and lovely classical music, so I was looking forward to it. Talk about shaking up a Monday!

The soiree began at 5, which meant I went straight from work, conveniently located just a few blocks away. The reception was in the fifth floor function room of a local bank, in what is probably the most remarkable room in town with terraces on each corner of the building and the best views of the courthouse, the museum, the Cumberland River and sadly, the jail. Or is it a prison? I never know the difference. It’s a big building with tiny windows and if you do bad things you get to spend some quality time in there. That place. Which is unfortunately located in the backyards of beautiful Dog Hill historic district blocking the sun from all the really cool older homes. I bet tending the roses is a blast when you think there are incarcerated eyes trying to peer out the frosted windows at you.

Back to the party. I mean soiree. There was a pianist playing the grand piano in one corner of the room. Many of the staff of the University art department were in attendance, along with a couple clients from my work, a few artists, my bosses, and my former boss from when I worked at the museum, plus his wife (who I was very pleased to see wearing a multi-strand citrine chip and pearl necklace created by me). The food was prepared by the culinary department at the University, one of the top secret programs that many in town don’t know even exists. Sadly, there has been a lot of cool stuff going on at the University that many don’t know exists – including the art classes KB and I sign up for that keep being cancelled because the minimum enrollment of five is not reached.

It was a couple hours of mingling and sitting in an alcove chatting with people including the musicians in the concert before a change of venue to the University concert hall. It’s always fun being with Stacy, a local celebrity – born and raised here, a journalist with the local paper who knows everybody and their mommas and daddies and first cousins once removed. That’s where it gets tricky, because it is nearly impossible for us to have a conversation with the constant interruptions from well-wishers and friends and family and people she wrote articles about at some time or another. She handles it with grace and charm and I am used to it taking three or four attempts to finish a story.

The concert was great – woodwind arrangements of pieces originally scored for orchestras. It opened with a comedy sketch when the musicians came out and the seating arrangement was short one chair and one music stand. Oops. Musical Chairs? Accident? Mischief? Or was it malice aforethought? Intrigue in the music hall.

The concert opened with a piece by Gioachino Rossini, then a piece by Antonin Dvorak. A quick intermission, then a long lost piece by Richard Strauss. Stacy asked if I wanted to bail during intermission, but I like Strauss waltzes, so I was interested to hear the “piece that may never be played anywhere else in the world.” And when I said “long” … try 30 minutes long. I was starting to glaze over like a Christmas ham about 20 minutes into it. Evidently, I missed the part in the introductory speechifying when the conductor said it was a half-hour long. That’s what I get for spacing out. I don’t care how pretty it is, I’m not sure any single piece of music should run that long. And it wasn’t that it was unpleasant, the music was lovely. It was just long. Blame my sound-bite attention span.

When I remarked how the clarinets had gotten quite a workout in the opening piece, I was informed by the journalist who had interviewed the musicians that they were oboes. My bad. I thought the mouthpiece looked weird. But really, what do I know? I also thought the bassoons were the oboes and the cello was a viola. Hey, I was a ballerina who wanted to play piano and spent all of the third or fourth grade mastering faking the flutophone. My brother and sister were the family blowhard wind musicians (trombone and clarinet).

I was enjoying watching the musicians, and gave some of them nicknames. (If the program wasn’t printed in such tiny lettering, or I wasn’t too lazy to pull out reading glasses, I could have read their real names, but my way worked fine.) There was “bored French Horn guy,” “bassoonist with cute ankle strap shoes,” “cellist with the intensity of an ax-murderer,” “flutist with great glasses and high-heeled boots,” and “spitmeister,” the oboist who would run a cloth on a string through his instrument between sections of music. The contrabassoon player had a brown plastic prescription container of water on the floor that he rewet his reed in. Well, I assumed it was water. Who knows, maybe it was vodka.

Overall, it was the most interesting Monday night I could have hoped for. I love being the journalist’s “+1”.

1 comment:

  1. I love having you as my date! And it's exceptionally fun to read about myself and our adventures, which sound even more fun in your witty retrospect. Thanks for the midnight head swelling. And pride swelling, at my +1's craftiness! Love you, Tam!