Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Save It For Your Horse

It was a nice day, by all accounts. It might not have been, considering the way it started, but it was. The only hiccup was that the computer locked up on Rob’s car, but thankfully that happened while we were still at home, so we just unloaded everything and piled into a different car.

The 2 ½ hour drive to Columbia to pick up Tess and Adrianne from their All-State Chorus auditions was quite pretty. The road was lined with red, yellow and orange trees, and the sky was bright blue. On the radiio, Clemson’s football team was massacring Duke. Such a beautiful day.

We got to the church in Columbia early and expected we would have to wait, but we didn’t. The girls were all done and ready to go, and so we were off again, the game still going on the radio but hardly holding our attention anymore with the score already at a more than twenty point spread and the girls singing through their Greenville Chorale music in the back seat, as they turned their focus from the morning’s auditions to the night’s concert.

Tabitha called to ask a question about something, her third of the day so far, and distracted the navigator (me) so we missed a freeway change. It took me more than 10 miles to notice, however, so there was a lot of grumbling from the driver (Rob). The exit we took to turn around turned out to be a ramp to another freeway, but the next exit off of that was just a street, and we were able to reverse our route and get back on track without much trouble.

We had an interesting few moments in the bathroom at a McDonald's along the way. Making conversation, I admired Adrianne’s haircut and asked her where she got it done. A few minutes later, a lady came in and, while she was waiting, also asked Adrianne where she got her hair cut…which is a funny question considering the lady turned out to be from New Mexico and just here on vacation. I mentioned that I’d been to New Mexico, to Las Cruces, and she told me I should have gone north because I really didn’t see New Mexico. So maybe someday I’ll do that.

Back on the road, we got to Greenville early, of course, and settled into Zaxby’s for dinner and to kill some time. Zaxby’s is a little slower than the average fast food restaurant because they make everything fresh, but even with that we were still early getting to the Peace Center. We parked across the river from the auditorium and had a nice stroll along the river walk, Tess and Adrianne drawing stares because now they were in their concert formals, but soon we were at our destination and still early. So we sat in front of the Peace Center for a long time.

Finally it was time for the concert. Rob’s parents arrived, along with Tabitha, who hadn’t wanted to be in the car all the way to Columbia, and Tabitha’s current beau, Jake. We got our programs and found our seats. The first half of the concert was a Haydn mass. They did a nice job with it, and the soloists were quite good. We had fun during intermission noting which ones teach at the colleges to which Tess has applied.

After intermission, the choir came back without their suit coats and wearing birthday hats. While they waited for the orchestra and the director, a few were blowing bubbles. Lest you think this is typical for kids, let me point out that the average age of this group was probably somewhere around 50.

When the director came out to start the second half of the concert, he had changed from his solemn tuxedo to a suit with a ruffled shirt and red bow tie. As a nice subtle extra, the ruffles on the shirt had red edging. He wasn’t wearing a birthday hat, but he had a balloon tied to his back pocket. He proceeded to explain to us about PDQ Bach. By the end of his first line, we were all laughing and for the rest of the concert the laughter didn’t stop.

The performers and the audience all had great fun with PDQ’s birthday [cantata?]. That balloon tied to the director’s pocket had fun too. It kept getting in the way of his conducting, and in true comic form he made the most of it, adding to the laughs.

Next was a mock madrigals group, singing two more PDQ Bach songs. They mocked well, and we kept laughing.

Then came the coupe d’etat, Oedipus Tex, another PDQ Bach creation. The choir donned togas and cowboy hats, and the orchestra was dotted with cowboy hats and red bandannas. The director came back out having changed yet again, now wearing a western jacket over his ruffled shirt and a cowboy hat. Rob’s dad made a comment to Glenda that he could have worn his hat and boots after all.

So many things were funny from this point on that it’s almost impossible to relate them all. Some of things we commented on later were that the narrator was reading “Country Living” in between his parts and drinking a beer, which he also tried to get the first cellist to drink. He was wearing western clothes, but still had on his tuxedo pants which were tucked into his cowboy boots. The horn player, apparently according to PDQ’s specifications, started off playing just her mouthpiece slightly amplified through a funnel. At strategic points throughout the movements, a stagehand dressed as a waiter would bring her various pieces of her horn on a platter, which she put together as they arrived until by the last movement she finally had a complete horn. The baritone soloist playing Tex had displayed his excellent talents well in the earlier serious part of the concert, so we wondered how hard it had been to intentionally sing poorly for the opening lines of Tex.

To remember the great fun we had, we all received Oedipus Tex “fan fans” on our way out, shaped like cowboy hats and printed with the announcement, “Howdy there, I am a PDQ Bach fan.” On the back was the following disclaimer:

"We at Pecknel Music while providing these fans, would like you to know that we are doing so for your comfort and not because we necessarily condone this 'train-wreck.' "

You know it’s a good concert when you walk out singing, and this one must have been good because we all walked out singing the refrain of the last song, the narrator’s advice for avoiding Oedipal entanglements in the future, “save it for your horse.” At several points on the drive home, this was the advice that put a few conversations to rest, and will probably do so again in the future: Save it for your horse!

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