Thursday, July 12, 2007

Concerts on the Square

Madison WI, where I live, has a long standing tradition of a pops summer concert series, called Concerts on the Square. It can be idyllic, like it was last night - a perfect summer evening, 70s, sunny, breezy, surrounded by your fellow Madisonians on blankets on the lawn around the State Capitol, listening to music. And of course, there are the perfect doses of Midwestern humor, like the signs that say (among the other "please don'ts listed") please don't pour out alcoholic beverages on the lawn - it kills the grass. And the conductor's New Zealand accent, and oddly stilted introductions to all the pieces - "it's perfect that we're listening to this one on the [Capitol] Square" ....because? or my favorite - "and here's a last number to send you away".

Not to mention that the soloist was an accordion player (Sergei Belkin) - actually why we went - playing an assortment of Russian warhorses, like Flight of the Bumblebee, and Sabre Dance. And they closed with Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet - come to think of it, that was another of the conductor's funny sayings - if the composer's name starts with a "k" or has a v in it, we're playing them tonight.

It's also great people watching; I was trying to figure out the family group next to us - there was a woman in her late 30s with a about 1-year-old baby, and a 4 or 5 year old daughter. There was a man with them, that might have been the baby's dad, but wasn't the little girl's - they all called him Derrick, not daddy - he looked a little younger than the woman, but may not have been. There was another couple with them, and various other singleton friends.

The other social more that was interesting was that, evidently, the older you are, the farther away from the grass you sit - only chairs with legs 6 inches or shorter are allowed on the grass; older folks set up taller chairs in the street.

The only time I took my mom to one of the concerts, one of the New Zealand conductor's very first shows, there was a rains storm cancellation, and I remember that we felt like we were going to get washed down the gutter - we sat in the street even with our short legged chairs.

Swan Song/ Still Life on Oriental Papers, 2007, Watercolor on Paper, by Peggy Flora Zalucha
You can order (.pdf form) this image as a poster to benefit the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

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