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Three score and ten or more

Monday, December 13, 2010

From the anticipatory to the realization

The last few days have been very rich.  Besides doing some good Christmas shopping and stuff like that,  we went; first, to the Camas High School Band Christmas Concert. 

The small group section was  very good.  They have two Jazz ensembles, and, for high school bands, in fact for bands playing locally in clubs or restaurants the quality was right up there.   The first ensemble had a baritone sax player who  could do union work tomorrow, and the second has a trumpet soloist who was a little guy who looked about twelve years old who just blew the heck right out of his horn.  He did an intricate solo that went from low register to high register and was very polished.  When the whole band started playing, I was impressed that they had an enthusiastic band with over one hundred thirty players.   With the advent of “No child left behind” and a general  budget crunch in secondary education, it was a thrill just to see that the school hadn’t given up on music altogether.

Having said that, the final concert section of the evening got off to a slow start.  Anderson’s Sleigh ride was a bit disturbing.  The percussion was the best part of the number but the low brass, in particular was muddy.  I began to wish them well and just hope it improved.  I had heard this band last year, and they were very impressive, but I was concerned after that first number.  The third number on the program was The Nightmare Before Christmas and it was wonderful and the rest of the program got better each number that was played  The band set up as a marching band with the percussion in front of the stage and the members of the band marching up the aisles to positions alll through the audience for the next to last number.  Even if it had been marginally played it would have been entertaining, but it was played very impressively, and the finale was a complete and pleasant surprise when the band members put their instruments aside and sang, very well in at least four parts, in acapella, Silent Night in German.  It was a wonderful finale.

Then, last evening, we went to the Grotto, a very nice and spiritual site, where the Catholic Church has a beautiful shrine in the woods, almost in downtown Portland.  I had been there before, and loved it, but this was their annual festival of lights.  The scenes and  designs covered many acres and were very impressive, but we had come to hear a choir in which my daughter in law was a participant.  As  we entered the area, the cars parked by the hundreds,  It was impossible to judge without a ticket count how many thousand people were in attendance but I am sure it was in the multiples,   As I picked up the program, I realized that the choir we went to see was just a small part of the overall program.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas, every night at least five choirs do a one hour program each.  The evenings start at about five P.M. most days and go to ten P.M. or so with a new choir each hour singing in the Chapel of Mary, a wonderful place seating bout four hundred with the acoustic sound of a Cathedral.  It is a wonderful place to listen, and to sing.  I’m afraid that if I had known sooner what was going on, or if I lived in the area and had the finances for a new admission each night, I might spend (or have spent) many nights listening to choir after choir.

At the same time there is a live nativity, nativities of patterned program lights, and two or three other program venues where they have at least two quartets, called the grotto carolers, who wander around singing, drop in at the beginning of each choir concert, to warm up the audience (which changes with each performance)   We heard the last part of a Youth Choir which was excellent, then listened to the one we came for (callled the Metro Arts Ensemble) which was also very good.

We also stopped to watch the carolers, a puppet show, (which the children loved, but, as a long time puppeteer, I found a little disappointing), and part of a living nativity as well as stopping to chat with a Santa dressed as a Medieval Bishop.

From there went to another church to walk through an exhibition of nativities brought by the church members.  It was well set up and lighted and had nativity scenes from almost every nation and culture that recognized the nativity.  I appreciated it very much, in part because my wife, and one of my sons collect nativities.  We have so many at our house that we have to sort through them to decide which ones to display in hour house each year.  (Janet talks occasionally about how nice it would be to ad a room to the house just to hold the nativities.

All things considered, I seem to have ventured from the Sublime almost to another form of the Sublime.  If we had the opportunity to go sing at a community Messiah concert (one of my favorite Christmas activities, even though I have given up most choir singing)


At 6:45 AM, Blogger Davo said...

Orf topic, perhaps; but the planet IS round.

Wishing You and Yours
Best Wishes for the Festive season.


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