Monday, October 25, 2010

Close Encounters

Isaac and I had a blast at the Symphony. He dressed in his overpriced Star Wars Jango Fett costume and we headed downtown to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. It was fantastic. They had the atrium set up with games for the kids and, Isaac's Favorite part, instruments for the kids to try: harp, violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, alto sax, bassoon, bongos, snare drums, and various other percussion. It was a great sampling from all the instrument families. Isaac tried just about everything, but the strings -the lines were long and he figured he can try out my cello anytime :). I can tell this is my child - he wanted to try out all the BIG instruments. He still swears he wants to play the drum though. I wouldn't be surprised if he winds up playing the sax, though, He got some good noise out of it and was pressing the keys like he knew what he was doing.

The pictures came from my cell phone, so forgive the poor quality.

 The bassoon was a lot harder than it looked!

 I love the expression on his face with this one. He LOVED it.

I do have to say that my favorite part of their decorations was the "De-composers" graveyard, where they had headstones for some of the more famous composers (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg, etc).

After an hour of playing games and instruments, we headed up the stairs to the balcony, where we had front row center seats. They weren't that much more expensive than general admission, and I thought that this way, he was guaranteed to not have anyone's head blocking his view - and we could see the entire orchestra. The picture doesn't do it justice.

"Schnoodle" the Alien (from the planet Schnarp) arrived just as the musicians were warming up, and so the musicians taught him and the audience about warming up, tuning, when to clap, and each of the instruments and their functions in the orchestra as the concert went along. It was cute and Isaac got a huge kick out of it.

The expression on his face was priceless when the first piece began - the title theme from Star Wars. He loved it because not only did he recognize it, but he was wearing a Star Wars costume! (so naturally, they were playing it just for him). Needless to say, he clapped wildly at the end of the piece. The second piece was Mozart's Symphony No. 40 (to highlight the strings). He recognized this one from "Little Einsteins", so it was another big hit. The third piece was Khachaturian's Waltz from Masquerade Suite. I wasn't familiar with the piece, but it highlighted the woodwinds (Schnoodle was pretending to play the clarinet at this point). Nest was Mendelssohn's Scherzo from Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream (Schoodle on trumpet?).  After that was Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. I believe Schnoodle was playing the trombone during this one, much to Isaac's delight (it's an easy instrument to find in the crowd). At one point during the song, he "broke" the trombone (pulled the slide out) and swapped it out for a vuvuzela, which Isaac recognized from this summer's World Cup. Next Schnoodle moved over to the percussion section and the bass drum for Borodin's Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor. Isaac loved watching him jump up and down as he played the drum. Next was Toreadors from Carmen Suite No. 1, by none other than Bizet (one of my favorite composers). Isaac recognized this one, too. The next to last piece was Troyte from Enigma Variations by Elgar, another piece with which I was not familiar.  I can't remember if it was this piece or Toreadors where Schnoodle played the timpani (have I mentioned that Schoodle is actually the principal timpanist?). They closed with (bet you can't guess!) the Flying Theme from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. And I will never complain about a concert that starts and ends with John Williams :) And all of that was just an hour! Color me impressed. My only disappointment was that it was only the core orchestra and not the full symphony, but it still sounded fantastic. I will definitely be taking my big boy back for more of the family concerts - and Liam, too, when he gets a little bigger. The look on his face and the wild applause after each piece makes the tickets worth every penny - and then some :)

We left happy and headed to Target, because Isaac thought baby brother should get a surprise since we left him with a sitter (and Isaac figured since he was a good boy, he should get some Matchbox cars). Happy boys = happy Mommy.

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