|Williams, Sousa, and shooting stars
||[Aug. 31st, 2003|04:51 pm]
The Blossom Music Center is a treasure in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. It is a magnificent outdoor amphitheatre that is the summer home of the internationally acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra and which allows people (like me) who can't afford the astronomical ticket prices for their winter performances in Severance Hall an opportunity to enjoy their music on the cheap from a picnic blanket on the lawn.
Getting to Blossom means negotiating a lot of country roads, and yet thousands of people regularly do so, as they did last night and will again tonight for the season-closing performance of the orchestra, a Salute to John Williams. I joined my friends Kat & Eric for a picnic on the lawn, and then laid back and watched the stars come out, awash in music.
Alas, John Williams did not guest conduct this year. But the concert was still one of the most enjoyable experiences of a busy and enjoyable summer. They opened with the music from "The Cowboys," one of Williams' best pieces. The evening wasn't all Williams, but it also wasn't all in the program, and surprise pieces came often. The orchestra played a number of John Philip Sousa marches throughout the evening, ending at last with lots of Williams, and encoring with "Star Wars." At which point Kat and Eric cracked me up by dueling with the glow sticks Kat had purchased.
(It is a sign of the true depth of my geekhood that the orchestra had not even finished the opening theme before I had realized that this arrangement was the one from the first movie and that this meant no "Imperial March.")
The enthusiasm of the crowd called for two more encores, both of them Sousa, and the concert season ended, appropriately enough, with "Stars and Stripes Forever," followed by a huge fireworks display.
These fireworks were not the only ones I spotted in the sky. Lying back in the grass, listening to music, I spotted three shooting stars streaking across the heavens, and Mars rose over the trees, still bright red as it moves away from us again.
The evening was chilly and damp, the first hint that summer is weakening. I was glad that I had chosen long pants and brought along a sweater, and even then we were cold enough to endure the long lines for hot coffee at intermission. But it didn't rain, and the orchestra gave a performance almost 2 and a half hours in length, and I came away from it chock-full of music and happy.