Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Young People at the Orchestra

"It's so nice to see young people at the orchestra!"

I opened my mouth to reply to the first elderly woman when another, even greyer one leaned right across me like the comment had been meant for her and remarked, "Well, it's so nice to be young people at the orchestra!"

Amen to that, though.

I went to see the Regina Symphony Orchestra the other night with Theresa, and now I think all I want to do ever is sit in a room with a bunch of old people and strings and horns.

Have I ever told you I'm into classical music? I am. I wouldn't say I'm a big geek about it or anything, but I'm possibly a little geek about it.

Just a little geek.

My geek credentials: I have my grade 10 RCM and I taught piano for a few years and one of my favourite songs of all time is Rachmaninoff's Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 8 in G Minor.

Honestly, though, underneath the geeky part - the theory classes and the composers history book that I look through for fun sometimes and the trying to teach Barclay how to play my classical piano studies on his electric guitar - there's a hugely sentimental bit. Classical music is my Linus blanket. It's comforting and schmaltzy and tangible.

Remember how I hated high school? I talk about that on here sometimes. High school was so weird and lame, wasn't it? (I like to pretend that everyone hated high school and that I wasn't just a loser all by myself.) Well, back when I hated high school, like all the rest of you, that was when I loved piano the most.

I grew up in this tiny town where everyone left their doors unlocked all the time - including the church doors. And during school when I had a spare or a noon hour or whatever, I'd sneak over there and sit in the big, empty, echoey sanctuary and play. Sometimes I'd just play Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 8 in G Minor over and over and over, because it really is the most beautiful song ever. Sometimes I'd learn a new song or work on my exam songs.

But I played them like a 16-year-old. I played them like a teenager who was really into emo music (I was, after all, a teenager who was really into emo music). I slowed all my fast songs down and played everything two octaves too low and turned all of my staccatos into lingering, wailing legatos. I imagined that I was playing the soundtrack to my own life. Oh, man alive, it was pitiful. My piano teacher would've hated it.

But it was also soothing and comforting and maybe the only okay thing about high school.

And I guess that's what I think of when I think of classical music. I think of a safe, calm place. A sanctuary, literally. With a high, vaulted ceiling and rows and rows of wooden pews.

You think I'm more than just a little geek now, don't you?

Anyway, the point is that I went to the orchestra and loved it because of this deep-rooted connection I have with that genre of music as a whole.

But I also have to tell you about the intermission.

At the intermission, I met three people. The first two were men, both dressed formally and looking rather imperturbable. They were like a couple of pallbearers at a funeral. Theresa introduced them to me, and then she introduced me to them. She said, "This is Suzy, she's my son's piano..."

And then she trailed off, because she was distracted or something.

(Sometimes, Theresa gets distracted. It's because she's always so busy observing everything. I enjoy this about her.)

She had been about to tell the men that that I was her son's piano teacher, because I was that, once. The first, without cracking a smile, extended his hand to me and said, "Hello. I hear you are a piano."

And then the man beside him, also unsmiling and in the same dry way, said, "A-ha, that's grand." He had both of his hands folded behind his back and he spoke into the upper right corner of the room.

And I was just like, Was that a piano pun? Are you wanting a pun war right now? Because, hello, I can do piano puns. I will own everybody in this room full of grey-haired classical music buffs at piano puns. 

Because I'm sharp. 

Take notes, everyone. 

Puns are my forte. 

I didn't say anything out loud though. I had, like, fifty ready to go in my head just in case, but no one said anything after that, and I think I missed my chance. And these men never actually smiled, so I don't know. I may have been imagining things. Barclay and I always have pun wars, so I think I imagine pun wars where there aren't pun wars.

The third person I met was an elderly lady whose husband had recently passed away. She said she'd bought season tickets to everything you can get season tickets for. She said she was tired of smoking cigarettes and playing FreeCell. She said her and her husband had been crazy in love, like in movies. She said she was okay because she had to be okay because she'd told him that she'd be okay. And she looked like she might be about to cry and I wasn't sure what to do. Should I have hugged her? I'm never sure where hugs are appropriate. Some people don't want a hug, some do. And I don't really like hugging strangers, but I would've done it if I thought it would make her feel better.

But then the lights dimmed and the conductor of the orchestra came out and started talking about Brahms, and about how Brahms was therapeutic. And then the orchestra played Brahms.

And it turned out the conductor was right about Brahms, because when I looked over at the lady, she was smiling.

And I was smiling too.

And so was Theresa.

And as the music faded, an adorable old gentleman seated behind me exclaimed (enthusiastically and probably louder than he meant to), "That Brahms is so exciting!"

Amen to that too.