The Next Stokowski?

I got to attend the symphony while I was home on leave recently. I am a little ashamed to admit that at 44 years of age, this was my first symphony. I’ve always been a jeans, t-shirt, and rock concert kind of guy. The symphony never held any real appeal. I know now that this is because I never experienced one for myself. I’ll not go into great detail as to what pieces were played. I’m not an aficionado who is able to offer a cultured critique, but I thought it pretty good. However, I will share several observations that, at times, became quite distracting. To me. And anyone near me, it seems.

Before we got settled in, it occurred to Doc that she’d left her phone in the car and lest she become textually frustrated, I offered to go retrieve it for her. Besides, I was wearing a killer suit. There is nothing quite like the feeling a well-made suit imparts and I felt like walking around in it. Perhaps strut is a better term for it. Obviously not a Mick Jagger or Tina Turner strut. That would look ludicrous in a black, double breasted, pin striped suit. There is a point to this. Not the suit part. The me going to get the phone part. So, as I crossed the street to the parking garage, a young woman in a black dress (skirt?) and white button up shirt (blouse? Don’t judge me. I don’t know the correct terms for what she was wearing) was crossing in the opposite direction. She smiled in acknowledgement of my suit and cast her eyes downward while pushing her hair behind her ear. I’m not implying she only had one ear or that all the hair went behind that one. It just happened on one side. Anyway, I thought nothing of it except that she had a spectacular head of hair and a pleasant smile. As I entered the garage, a young jovial looking bearded fellow wearing black slacks and a white shirt (wait staff I presumed), came sauntering out of the garage with a lit cigarette hanging from his grin. It wasn’t until the show got underway that I remembered either of them. As it turns out, she was the first-string cellist. An odd sort of name for it, I think. She sat in the first chair. Maybe she should be first chair cellist? Later in the performance, the happy looking smoker came forward to play a duet with another guy. They both played these miniature versions of trumpets in a manner that impressed me considering at least one of them was a known connoisseur of cheap tobacco. The realization of what I’d witnessed struck during that duet. Flustered, slightly embarrassed looking girl followed at distance from the shadows of a parking garage by a grinning, smoking guy? My head went straight to American Pie and band camp, at which point I was promptly shushed. Do you have any idea what it is like to have all of this to say when it is apparently inappropriate to do so? I was sure my head would explode.

Then there was the choir. Oh, my God, the choir. They weren’t bad, mind you. I’m not a huge fan of choral music though. Their apparent lack of organizational acumen distracted me to no end. In my mind, they should have been arranged in some fashion by height. Ascending order. Descending order. Maybe like a pyramid. Give them all special stools so they were of uniform height. Anything but this random placement based solely on something as arbitrary as voice sections would have aided in calming the twitch in my left eye.

I also took umbrage with what instrument gets to lead. There was no piano present and the extent of my knowledge on lead instruments told me that the piano should lead. Being a former percussionist, I think percussion should lead in the absence of the piano. Doc informed me that the largest string leads when there is no piano. See where I’m going with this? If the piano makes noise by banging on strings with little hammers, it is clearly a percussion instrument. Without the hammers, it’s just a box full of wire. Therefore, the biggest drum should lead. In this case that would be the timpani. Boom! Percussion dominance established.

I should direct a symphony. The biggest drum would reign supreme. Center stage would be dominated by the largest Japanese hurricane drum I could find, and the choir (if I had one) would be as uniform in height as a platoon of Imperial Storm Troopers. Also, the members of the string section could consort freely with members of the brass section without the apparent stigma currently keeping two lovers from openly professing their affections. My symphony would be awesome. And possibly syphilitic. You never know where brass players have been.

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