Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cultured? (Only if this reference is to something that has soured)

Recently another stay-at-home-mom friend and I decided to take advantage of a free noontime concert at a local university that was open to the community as well. The website said that it was to be a piano duet that day, and I was really looking forward to this! It has been a long time since I've done anything like this, so I had really geared myself up to getting a little taste of 'culture' again!

Unfortunately, our parking meter gave us a bit of a problem so we were a tad bit late getting into the recital hall and we had to wait outside the doors until the first movement was over and we could slip in. I couldn't really hear much from out there. The pianos were muffled and I wasn't really able to follow any type of melody or anything, but it was probably because we were not yet sitting in front of the pianists, enveloping ourselves in their music.

Finally there was a break in the music and we quickly slipped into our seats near the front, anxiously awaiting this culture that we were going to experience! For the next forty minutes I sat there mezmerized ... and dumbfounded ... and confused ... and terribly amused. I should have clued in that this was NOT what I was expecting when the lead pianist was leaning into her piano and then bellowed some sick sounding noise in at the strings as we were walking in. Then she started banging on the piano and tapping it, but not with any type of rhythm that I could pick out. I honestly thought that something was wrong with her piano and this was her way of dealing with it - not so professional - if you would have asked me.

It just got weirder from there. Looking at the program a bit closer, my friend pointed out that it was improvisation and the two pianists seemed to just go at it in their own little worlds. Nothing made sense to me. It just sounded like a bunch of noise thrown out at itself and banged around until it finally fell onto the dusty stage floor and got kicked under the pianos. To top it all off, there was an elderly gentleman sitting on the other side of the recital hall who seemed to have nasal and breathing issues like you wouldn't believe! Oh*my*goodness! This guy's breathing was soooo distracting that I wanted to just burst out laughing! The "music" was hard enough to concentrate on, but then to have this man's consistent, obstructive-sounding breathing echoing across the seats was just too much for me!

I didn't want to say anything to my friend because she does know a lot more about music than my measly four years of failed piano lessons and four years of very elementary alto sax lessons. If she was enjoying this, I didn't want to let her know that I was about ready to die in there! It was unbelievable. Since I couldn't focus on any of the musical elements of the pianists' work, I just took in my surroundings. I noticed the paneling behind the pianos and how they tended to stick out and wondered if the patterning of the pieces was done on purpose to reflect the sounds more appropriately. I noticed the layer of dirt on the stage floor and wondered why someone didn't take a quick swipe of a dust mop before the concert. I noticed that one pianists' clothes didn't match in the least and that the other was wearing jeans, and Birkenstocks with SOCKS! I noticed that people were getting up and leaving and we were still sitting there! Sheesh!

That's when my friend leaned over and whispered, "If we hadn't have come in late, I so would have been out of here long ago!" Ha! The truth was out! She didn't enjoy it either! That sure relieved me because I didn't know how I was going to have a conversation about this ... this ... this noisy stuff that I was hearing! I could hardly wait to get out of that place, but I remembered that I was being cultured, so I sat and patiently waited until they were done so I could politely clap and then leave. The audience all must have felt the same way because the applause died out so quickly and everyone jumped up to leave and the two pianists didn't even have the chance to come back out for a second bow. That's quite alright with me. I needed to get out of there before I lost it royally!

So, yes. I feel that I was cultured because I sat in a university recital hall, in a plush, maroon seat that folded down, but the "music" was so sour to my ears that I left feeling quite cultured in my stomach.

Next week is a string and piano duet. I think I'd like to try it again and give this culture thing a second chance.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Friend

My heart is heavy today. I received some very sad news about my best friend from high school yesterday. According to her sister, my friend's little daughter found her yesterday morning after she had passed away. There is all kind of speculation as to what happened but I'm not here to spread rumors or tell breath-taking stories. All I know is that my friend is gone at the age of 43, leaving behind three children, one grandchild and a lifetime full of friends and I am sad. Even though I haven't had much contact with her at all over the past 25 years, there will still be a hole there where my friend used to be.

I know most of you don't know her, but that's ok. I'm really just writing this for myself because I'm so sad to think that I will never have the opportunity to spend time with her again. It was so sudden and no one was prepared for this. Madelyn was beautiful, intelligent and knew what it meant to be a friend. I sure will miss her.