I’m sitting by myself in the balcony, awaiting the season opening performance of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. In the seat to my right, where Mama would usually sit, is my hat; Mama is in Vermont for the week with 3B, introducing him to his great-grandma, cousins, great-aunts and uncles, and the farm, which is where Mama’s Mom grew up.
With things being as topsy-turvy as they have been recently, we lost track of our symphony ticket until yesterday. Mama called me at work to let me know that opening night was tonight, but neither of us could remember, or had time to look up the program.
Turns out the first half is Midori playing Brahms’ violin concerto, and the second half is Beethoven’s 9th. My first reaction was to flash back to hearing the Brahms at the SF Symphony with Mom, which is where I heard so much symphonic music for the first time. My next thought was that this is a pretty easy, crowd pleasing season opener. Of course, they have bills to pay and, as someone who loves both pieces, I’m proof that their program selections put the butts in the seats, but sometimes it’s nice to be stretched. I remember the time that Mom and I saw the SF Symphony play the score to Alexander Nevsky, complete with chorus in the balcony, which rose to sing just as the amassed armies on screen rushed headlong into battle, the motion in the symphony hall echoing and amplifying that in the film.
Music has the same effect on my emotions, echoing and amplifying them, especially these days. Or, as FunkDaddie, who recently lost his Dad, says, “Music, it’s a motherfucker.” It’s not helping that in going over the last gifts that I got from Mom, I keep playing the Johnny Cash album that she got me. It’s appropriately titled, as both she and I traveled down hundreds of highways together and separately, but with songs like “Further On (Up the Road)” and “Like the 309,” it’s sometimes a hard listen.
The whistle blows and I’m gone again”