Monday, July 5, 2021

a little day music

Yesterday afternoon was the first chance for the Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra, the wholly and emphatically volunteer group with which B. has been playing violin, to hold a full in-person rehearsal since before the pandemic. Yet somehow it turned into a public celebratory Independence Day concert.

This must have been after they booked the grass amphitheater in the park behind the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts to play in. The CPA put it up on their outside electronic display board of upcoming events (there aren't many others right now, certainly not indoors) and it even got advertised on the premise of "Since the San Francisco Symphony isn't doing its annual fireworks Fourth of July show at Shoreline this year, here's something you can do instead." Taking the pressure off much?

About 60 musicians gathered on pre-set chairs under shade tents in the pit of the little amphitheater. By pre-arrangement, B. sat in the concertmaster's seat. TACO doesn't actually have a concertmaster ("leader" in British terminology), but that's where she sat. Not only is she probably at this point the best violinist in the orchestra (a low bar), but it's a seat that, with her walking problems, she can reach while carrying a violin without risking tripping on something.

Up on the semi-circular grass berm surrounding the musicians, in the shade of the tall redwoods surrounding it from behind, sat about as many listeners, the largest audience TACO has ever had. The scene was festive. It was a warm sunny day and there were more hats than masks. The woman next to me was wearing a blue fedora with a red-and-white striped hatband. Her daughter with her had red-white-and-blue deely boppers. I had both my hat and a mask. I don't really need a mask at this point, but I wasn't going to miss an appropriate occasion to wear the American flag design I randomly picked up from a bin of anonymously-packaged masks a ways back.

The concert lasted about 90 minutes and included imaginative arrangements of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "This Land Is Your Land," to which the conductor urged singalongs, not a wise thing to embark on just before the arranger augments the theme to half its previous speed. And some Sousa marches and Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." Less on the patriotic side, a Mozart Andante and Elgar's "Nimrod." All of these were arranged for full orchestra (the Mozart being originally for strings and the Copland for brass & percussion), and pleasingly the strings made an audible contribution even in the brassy stuff. Much of the time the orchestra stayed together; much of the time the conductor remembered the right number of beats in the bar.

We hobbled back around the building to the elevator down to the parking garage and drove home in time to feed the cats their dinner.

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