Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bitte räumen in geordneter Weise*

On today’s agenda? Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Ode to Joy”, his masterpiece. Because the chorus only rehearsed it five times – four, if you’re me and you blew off a rehearsal to visit old friends– I have been listening to various recordings on YouTube to wedge it securely into my brain’s crevices.  Thus, that fourth movement, where the chorus comes in, has been going through my head continuously, even when I first wake up in the morning.

We were going to perform it outdoors, but it rained continuously all day yesterday. At some point in the last day or so, the organizers decided it would be better to move the performance to the Uh Oh location, our local art deco movie house.

Call was at 1:00pm this afternoon. Oh, to walk into the Latchis Theater, one of my favorite spaces in town…


image thieved from here because really, my cell phone’s picture is pretty crappy.

…moved me to tears. It’s just such a gorgeous space. And it never occurred to me I’d have a chance to perform here. Let alone Beethoven’s 9th! And then I realized that we – the chorus – would not be on that stage. We’d be up in the balcony. With pretty much the view you see above. The conductor would be far, far away…with his back to us. This is my first time singing “Ode to Joy” and I was pretty much counting on getting a good close-up view of the conductor, particularly for some tricky bits where Beethoven switches up his time signatures and pacing mid-sentence, as it were.

After a pretty interesting first piece I’d be hard-pressed to describe other than it involved – in addition to the orchestra – a guy with a huge rack of gongs and xylophones who probably burned 1,000 calories during the performance, we had an intermission, and then settled down for a little light Beethoven.

A few minutes into the first movement, there was a loud POP and all the lights went out. The whole audience gasped. The orchestra kept going for about five seconds before settling into the muck and mire of total darkness. The emergency lights came on, the lights flickered on and off a couple of times, and we all realized, hey! we’re having an adventure! We got word that a transformer fire had knocked out power to a whole section of town and that there was no way of knowing when it would come back online. In the meantime, those emergency lights would only be good for another 45 minutes.

This being southern Vermont, we then proceeded to have an improvisational sing-along (“this little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine…”, followed, naturally, by “when the saints come marching in”). Our conductor then had the chorus sing a page or two worth of the famous refrain from our 4th movement, which in the dark? turns out I don’t know my German quite as well when I can’t take a peek at the score. But that soprano line is so freaking high that really, all the consonants and syllables pretty much dissolve up there and it’s all good.

This being southern Vermont, we all agreed that yeah, we’d reschedule it and use the honor system for keeping track of tickets and refunds. And then we all spilled out into the streets and found other ways to amuse ourselves for the day.


This is a wild strawberry in the lawn. And it’s the best of the bunch, as in overcast, wet weather, I find the marvelous Panasonic would prefer to nap than take pictures.


*”Please evacuate in an orderly manner”, according to the google.

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