Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reflections on a Musical Weekend

Guest Comment

Hadleyblogger Bobby is back with one of his regular commentaries on the music scene in South Carolina. He raises some of the same questions we've raised here in the past: the status of live musical performance today, role of the producer and director in interpreting a stage work, the etiquette (or lack thereof) among modern audiences, the sorry state of "sacred" music in some churches, and more.


I'm still tired as I write at 7 AM following arriving home at 2 AM the previous evening from Carousel in Hartsville on the second half of a two-night, two musical weekend. It was a way to mingle with a few friends, and more than a fair share of incidents.

Friday night was back at my alma mater for A Little Night Music of Sondheim, and because of the loss to that hated rival school (whose radio station in that market is the Air America station, while my alma mater is the O'Reilly / Hannity / Ingraham station), I couldn't wear my college ring or "that" shirt and tie combination with the suit.

A Little Night Music -- I was able to sit in the fourth row, behind a group of friends who made an entire row. A full orchestra and the works . . . and guest artists (including a paper company executive) made the evening fun. But for some reason, I still can't identify Marion (my pianist from a pair of recitals) even after all of these years. And what was the situation with those ladies in front of me standing together as their "heroine" came on stage for the final bows? They jumped so early I was reminded of my voice teacher's warnings to me -- "don't instigate the standing ovation." ["Words we should all live by" - Mitchell] A hug from Brittnee Siemon (a dear friend I've made from classical music) and also Mariel Angel Estrella, making her debut in the music department's events (she's a nursing major) (and old stories), were able to pass the time.

Next week (Good Friday) is her doctoral recital, and the dearest of dears (my voice teacher) is joining her for the ride. I'm going there and skipping my church's Easter "musical" (note there isn't anything of a Passion and Resurrection theme in the songs -- they are just the regular pop/rock songs people now sing in church) to hear a friend. [From what he's written in the past, I feel for Bobby - anyone with an appreciation for true sacred music seems to have no place in his church. - Mitchell] Brittnee is a youth choir leader and I hope her material is better than the junk our inept leader does. Of course, when the leader and the singers (one is just a year older than I am) states karaoké accompaniment exclusively, it's a wonder nobody wants to play at church when the leader wants it that way. He refuses to consider any instrumentalists, and I've called him over that.

[Bobby goes on to point out that his voice teacher is directing the performance of the musical Carousel that night.] But some things had me questioning -- and no, she is not to blame because she wasn't there to arrange the music -- the producer in question, Graham Wood, is to blame in my book since he's top brass.

  1. Why were sections on the sides of the centre in the lowest sections closed? Turns out there were a pair of speakers on each end to accompany the keyboard and bass guitar orchestral reductions.
  2. What was with the two microphones hung on top of the stage? It seemed they amplified the stage . . . big no-no there! (It did seem amplified to accompany the amplified instruments) Of course, we'll scatter that stuff Monday at our regularly scheduled lesson -- we've taken two weeks off because of her work there and my Cooper River Bridge Run last week.
  3. Don't be a Jigger. Billy's mistakes cost him, and with my father's death recently, I actually was reduced to tears at the end. (My friend and I are both without a parent each -- she lost her mother nearly five years ago, and it seemed her consoling of me was there again. Please pray as her grandfather has prostate cancer.)

Watch out for the stories! During some dead time as I walked into the theatre, a few attendees wanted to meet the director, and I obliged by giving them stories about our friendship. While the stories flowed, she popped behind me and I escaped . . . is there some sort of mind game from just knowing her and being able to simply laugh it off?

And oh, by the way: whatever happened to etiquette? Kids were in tee-shirts, jeans, and sometimes ripped. A few used their cell phones while in the auditorium (intermissions and pre-show mostly) in violation of the No Phones, Food, or Drink rule. (I keep my phone in my truck, charging, in concerts.) All of this looked odd when I only wear suits to these performances.

I know how you feel, Bobby. Whenever we go to the orchestra or opera we always dress up, and it seems as if we're sometimes outnumbered by people in casual shirts and jeans. Would it hurt to put on nice clothes just once in a while?

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