Saturday, April 4, 2009
Sometimes You Just Gotta Get Out
I know that the life of a writer is necessarily one that is heavy on solitude. And considering the fact that I don't really get to allocate a very high percentage of any particular day/week/year to the actual Writer's Life, my doses of solitude come pretty few and far between. So you would think I would cherish each opportunity to share my space with nobody other than the characters in my book and the thoughts in my head. And often as not that is the case.
But sometimes the rare and sought after solitude just isn't welcome.
Sometimes what is wanted is a healthy dose of Belonging to a Community with a side dish of Taking Part in a Ceremony. And I am really glad I had the chance to do both yesterday evening, because an entire day of an empty house, not many chores to do and a mind that just would not open up and let The Baer Boys (my current work in progress) in was about to drive me past grumpy to somewhere very close to surly.
My salvation came in the form of a family outing. As funds are even scarcer nowadays than they have traditionally been in the Hutcheson household, we have made a commitment to spend the little discretionary income we have as much as possible on Experiences instead of Stuff. And the latest Experience was Going to the Symphony.
It was my idea and when I posed it to the family several weeks ago it was met with what can only be called apathy. My wife seemed to agree only because there was a two-for-one deal on tickets and it would provide another excuse to ride on the new Light Rail into downtown Phoenix. Our daughter shrugged and said in essence "whatever". And our son indicated at first that he had no interest at all and then changed his mind when we said we would be trying to incorporate a visit to Pizzaria Bianco for dinner. Pizzaria Bianco has been pretty universally declared the best pizza place in the whole wide world, and from our one visit there a couple of years ago I would have to say this pizza fiend agrees wholeheartedly.
As it turned out, dinner at Bianco was impossible. When I called them the day before to ask when we should get there to make sure we could make an eight o'clock concert I was told "Three-thirty in the afternoon". Not possible for us. So, between the loss of the pizza allure and a power struggle between him and my wife regarding proper symphony attire we just about lost our son's participation. But in the end she relented regarding the outfit and so at about 6:30 yesterday evening we all got on the new Valley Metro Light Rail and headed into downtown Phoenix.
There were just a few riders at first, but more got on at just about every stop, including a bunch in Tempe around ASU, and before you knew it the train was packed. An air of excitement is what we had. Some folks were heading to the Suns game (we won!), some to First Friday's artwalk, some to clubs and restaurants, and we were going to the symphony. You just can't get that sort of vibe driving your own little capsule of a car.
About a block from the light rail stop at Third Street is Symphony Hall. No parking lots involved! We were early, so we indulged in some baked treats from one of the concessions in the lobby and enjoyed each others company and watched the rest of the people gathering.
The first piece in the concert was a Haydn symphony. Number Fifty-nine. Short, lively, a lot of fun.
And then out came a trio called Time for Three. Two violins and a double bass. They were there to play a piece by Jennifer Higdon called "Concerto 4-3" based on bluegrass and other American music idioms. But before they played the concerto, they launched into a rollicking version of Brahm's Hungarian Rhapsody No 5. that was simply jaw dropping. They treated it as a launching point for some incredible improvisation, worked in snippets of melodies from "Fiddler on the Roof" and even incorporated a bit of Two Men on One Fiddle stunt playing that you had to see and hear to believe. After that I thought the concerto would be a letdown but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Virtuoso playing by the soloists, powerful accompaniment by the orchestra, and just an incredible amount of energy coming off that stage. I know that Springsteen was in town and playing at about the
same time, but I doubt even he could have generated the sort of musical heat that was coming from Time for Three and the orchestra being led by Michael Christie.
Then intermission, which unlike most intermissions where you must fill the time with small talk, bathroom waits and general lobby loitering, there was a short and interesting interview between Maestro Christie and the members of Time for Three. My kind of intermission. After that came Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninoff, which while it wasn't quite treat the Higdon was, still topped the concert off quite nicely.
The ride back home was even livelier than the ride downtown. Lots of people returning from having fun. Families, couples, people who were celebrating the Sun's victory and people like us aglow from the concert.
It was good to be with people. And good to participate in the ceremony of performance. The writing will be good another time. Like now!
Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise
Re the pic: I just like that one. Four marbles in a glass. I took that photo about thirty years ago.
It was a moment when solitude was working very well.
A Bit About Me
- Alan Hutcheson
- I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.com. As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.