Tuesday, March 1, 2011


One of the most unforgettable times we ever had at an evening entertainment was one of our evenings at the symphony downtown. It’s right on the circle, and as soon as you start around the round, it’s like a grand stage-set---twinkle lights twined in every tree, all the way around the street, and the immense every-side stairway all around the fountain encircling the Monument, right in the center of the city. The streets fan off the circle like pie-wedges, and it’s all bright lights and people strolling, the clop of the carriages and the shussssh of the fountains, with a great WHITEness over the whole thing. It feels as if this island if bright white, this circle in the middle of all the tall buildings, could be seen from the moon. The Symphony Hall’s marquee is totally outlined in large clear bulbs which make it festive all year, and the anticipation as you approach---it’s a wonderful way to enter the theater.

It’s lovely to go in the daytime, as well; on Fridays in Spring and Summer, all the people who work downtown bring lunches or buy them from the vendors, and the entire circle of steps around the fountain and all the benches are filled, for the Symphony has a noontime program, sent out into the street on the speakers---what a NIFTY idea!! Free and wonderful.
One evening as we entered the Hall, Chris just kept going and going, right down to the stage. We’d NEVER bought tickets down in that expensive section, and I was delightfully surprised. He just smiled and KEPT going, right around to the left of the stage, and up the steps, where we entered a box which ran the depth of the stage. At that time, there were two rows of flip-up theater seats, just hanging there, right OVER the musicians---you could look right down into the horns, and down on tops of heads, with the music rising like heat from a cauldron and the bows during vigorous violin passages like waving wheat beneath our knees.

That was an EXPERIENCE. We were INSIDE the music, a part of it, of something so wild and beautiful and gently lulling, of the tempo and the volume and the notes, just filling you up entire, and leaving no room for time or place. I cannot tell you---for some strange reason, the only simile I can kindle is that it’s kind of like water-skiing---with the speed and the rush of the water and you’re traveling unencumbered and bare to the wind in your ears, and you have no control of the mad dash ahead, but it’s the most exhilarating headlong flight of your life. Like that. Or maybe if you fell into a maelstrom of pure sound, and the whirling itself was a whole section, like the woodwinds or strings.

We were just transported, and it was magical. I try to think how it must feel to be a member of that orchestra, sitting in the midst of that music every time, and to BE a part of it, with your own contribution adding to the mystery and perfection of the whole. Amazing. I wouldn’t have missed it.


sparrowgrass said...

That monument is one of my very earliest memories, Rachel. My mom is a Missourian, who married my dad and moved to his hometown of Pittsburgh.

At least a couple of times a year, we drove from Pittsburgh to southeast MO, on old Rt. 40, which, I believe, made the circle around that monument. I don't know what the figure is on top, but my folks always had us watch for the 'Indian'. We left Pittsburgh for Chicago area when I was 4, so it really is an old memory.

racheld said...
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racheld said...

Oh, Sparrow! I'm so delighted you shared that memory---I have a few from "before four" as well---and yours is amazing. Old 40 is still called 40 when it gets out of town both ways---we love to ride it in Spring and Fall, for it's an old "Post Road," not to be confused with the actual N/S Post Road, which leads into Ft. Ben Harrison.

Some of the houses and business on 40 are so close to the highway now, they cannot use the original front doors, and we love the old shapes and configurations of the houses, and the stalwart way they've stood for more than a century as the world went by at their feet.

In town, it's called Washington Street, and all the streets are oriented off that one---below Washington they're all called South . . . and above they're North. Same way with Meridian, which runs North/South, and divides the city (or DID, before it sprawled its way into all the surrounding communities like a vast amoeba) but the East/West designations begin at Meridian.

And the statue is just Victory---she was supposed to be Winged Victory, but since the whole thing is just a few feet shy of the Statue of Liberty, the wings might have been a wind-hazard.

Thank you SO much for this memory!!

Beverly said...

I'm sorry my song today made you a bit sad. Music certainly can evoke many emotions.

I am an only child, and we would always sing on road trips. You name it, we would give it a go. My daddy would sing the various armed forces songs. I was probably the youngest child that knew all of those words.

steelersandstartrek said...

I had just cranked up Rachmaninoff at the office (for my own sanity, plus I amuse myself by irritating the surrounding rabble from time to time with classical, jazz, folk, celtic, or even Christmas tunes in July) and took a break from columns of numbers to read your latest quite by chance. What a soundtrack Sergei provides for your account! I wish we made time to attend the symphony here, they are not half bad.

My memories of Victory are much more recent than Sparrow's, but still warmly recalled. I spent a great evening with good friends in that town a little bit ago, looking at splashes of color on buildings nearby and drinking in the smells and sounds of the city. I love to trot out that weekend and watch it again in my mind, thankful that I can avoid actually gaining the weight that came with the several feasts and treats.

What a lovely place.

Keetha said...

Why, that is enchanting!

racheld said...

Keetha, I'll be dropping back in to comment on your marvelous adventure in a little bit, and I thank you for coming by to visit so often---I love hearing from you.

SAST, Dear Friend:

What a weekend that was!! I still want a DO-OVER! That one had some interference beyond the powers of us all, and I'm still huffy at the thought. I'm just so glad you LOOKED at things and enjoyed the food and the get-togethers, and overlooked my sounding like the trollish namesake of your Dear Departed Cat.

Dear Sergei!!! Little did he know he was to be a part of our wedding, these twenty-five-years this July. He's mentioned in "MUSIC II" just back a few posts, and I wonder how he'd take to his position right beneath Jerry Jeff 'n' 'em.
I've somehow always thought that anyone who played Rachmaninoff must have super-long hands and fingers, and a strike at the keyboard like a rattlesnake---they always seem to be sparring with the piano. Until I heard that glorious Rhapsody.

Thank YOU for dropping in---I always enjoy your comments. I hadn't thought, but perhaps these pictures remind you and Kim of our evening there.

And you DO know it's been TWO years! See y'all in June!!


Kim Shook said...

Rachel, you have to know that you've been singing his song with these music posts. Mike has the most small-c-catholic knowledge and taste in music of anyone I've ever known (until YOU!). How he fell in love with a musical ignoramous like myself is a miracle. I am of the 'I know what I like' school of music appreciation. I adore jazz and swing and old time rock and roll. I have to blushingly admit that I do NOT care for most choral music (I do love hymns, though - sung out full and loud by the entire congregation - NOT sung only by a well trained choir) - I actually refer to it as yodeling. . It comes with the raising, I guess. My Mr. was raised in a musical family - piano lessons for all the kids and a truly gifted grandmother. I was raised listening to my grandfather's old records from the 30's and 40's, my parent's cast off Everly Bros. tunes and sing alongs at Shakey's Pizza Parlor.