Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abandoned

Several years ago a guest soloist rehearsed the Brahms violin concerto with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. She was a young Asian woman whose name I can not remember. All went well until the night of the concert.
The concerto has a long opening played by the orchestra alone. The soloist stands and waits for his/her entrance. While playing this many of us in the orchestra began to see unusual movement in the audience. People were getting up and LEAVING before the soloist had played anything! I noticed what looked like policemen or security people in the aisles. One by one we stopped playing and the conductor, having his back to the audience, just watched us drop out as he continued to lead the music (wonder what he was thinking?!). Soon he and all of us had stopped and we watched everyone finish filing out at the direction of the police. A rumor began circulating...a BOMB scare! Needless to say, I thought my life would soon be over. We and our instruments would be scattered everywhere! And the poor soloist who watched everything and never played a note!
It was not a bomb scare but an electrical fire in the basement, I believe. Such a relief--and such a bizarre concert. That poor soloist!! I suppose it was a "once in a lifetime" experience for all of us!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Magic of Horses




     While walking our dog earlier this summer I was passed by two female joggers. One of them had a long, blond ponytail that was bouncing and swinging. I was reminded of my long ponytail as a child, my horse tail. I was one of those girls who was horse-crazy, complete with a china horse collection and callouses on my knees. I spent my play time whinnying and crawling around; I even had a stall under the dining room table. I begged and bossed my sister into being my owner and feeding me there.
At school I belonged to a wild horse gang. My girlfriends and I would gallop around the playground at recess and try to avoid getting caught by certain boys.
     I loved beautiful horses. I poured over my horse book,  especially the Lippizan stallions. Horse books, shows and movies such as Black Beauty and My Friend Flicka fueled my imagination.  I was also a fan of the Lone Ranger's Silver and Zorro's black stallion.
     Being a cowgirl was the next best thing to being a horse. I remember sitting on the floor or my rocking horse and watching cowboy shows with my cowboy hat on. A special treat was watching Annie Oakley Saturday evening after baths and hair-washing. When I was a bit older my interest turned more to people such as Zorro, who was both handsome and exciting. My sister and I had fun pretending to sword fight and making Z's. Then I became obsessed Lady Marion, Robin Hood's woman. She was my favorite person to pretend to be.

     My mother tried various things to break me of my horse obsession. Once she put my supper on the kitchen floor so I had to eat like a horse, thinking that losing the opportunity to eat with everyone else at the table might get my attention. It backfired.  I've been told I liked it! She also bought me a beautiful baby doll and carriage which I promptly converted to a stroller for my big black stuffed horse. She was very disappointed.
     In fourth grade I met a girl who could draw great pictures of horses. I'd been drawing horses since I was very young, but not well. I began drawing them better with her help. I found out she took riding lessons and my parents consented to letting me have them, too. The first year I learned western style and after that English, my real desire.
     As much as I loved horses one would think I would really take to riding. I rode beautiful half or full Arabians and enjoyed them, but I was a daydreamer on the back of a horse. A horse must know that you are in charge and that was not my strength. There were a few times that while I was off someplace else mentally, the horse decided to take me out of the riding ring and dump me. Always successfully! I was never a really good rider. I wish I had exercised more courage and discipline because I really wanted to jump horses. To this day I can feel how to do it.  Oh well--such is life!!
     After reflecting on my childhood obsession I had an aha moment about one of my sons. I recognized his behavior as similar to mine. I suppose I'd never really noticed a connection to me because it was not about horses. This boy was Zorro for almost two years. He watched one Disney Zorro episode on cable and was hooked. Every day he dressed in black; you know, the black clothes, mask, hat and play sword. He drew and drew and drew pictures, all Zorro. Years later I found a few Z's carved during time-outs and strategically placed where they would not be easily found, such as on a ceiling! I remember taking a vacation with extended family and losing him during the confusion of checking into our resort room. He just slipped out and disappeared. A parent's nightmare--but he was easy to spot. How many other children would be running loose in Zorro clothes?!
     My horse obsession passed and my son lost interest in Zorro, but it was fun while it lasted.  I appreciate a beautiful horse and my son is the biggest superhero fan of all my kids. Perhaps one of them will have a daughter someday who will be a horse fanatic.  I think that is called "the mother's curse"--HA HA!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Frolicsome Frogs

Several years ago, in another time and place, I was part of a chamber orchestra that performed Handel's oratorio Israel in Egypt. The only part I recall is music depicting the plagues which preceded the expulsion of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. I have a vague memory of lice and/or flies in the viola part...........
We had a guest conductor and soloist. I do not remember the chorus, although it must have been there. The conductor seemed intellectual and stodgy, and the soloist was a countertenor. The latter was a short, sandy-haired man whose singing was expressionless. This was my first experience hearing a countertenor and I did not know much about them. I remember wondering if his lack of emotion was due to the unnaturalness of the voice (I have since heard countertenors who emote!).
The musical descriptions of the plagues were interesting and clever, but the drama of them was missing. It seemed silly to me at times.....this music was supposed to describe something horrible!
My reaction reached its peak during the aria Their Land Brought Forth Frogs. There stood that little man with his little deadpan voice singing about a plague of yucky frogs!! To make matters worse, there was NO VIOLA PART. We just sat there. To my left was a little cello section playing music depicting frogs jumping and it sounded like they were playing in the local pond! With nothing to do, humorous mental images began creeping in.........like frogs playing hippity-hop in a puddle. Or a few frogs hopping out of cello "F" holes into the audience. Or into the singer's mouth. I wanted to at least giggle, but no----not even a hint of that could be allowed! I remember telling friends about the experience and howling with laughter. I had to have some release!! It was just too weird for me, although I have some appreciation of the style now.
I believe it was after this that I had my first thought of using my bow as an arrow. In fact, I imagined all the players shooting their bows. I will leave it to you to decide where they were going...........


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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.