Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Parents, politics, music and more

“I know that the twelve notes in each octave and the variety of rhythm offer me opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust.” — Igor Stravinsky

PAUL AND I have been working on an exhibit for the Des Moines Symphony for many months, though the lion's share of the effort has decidedly been his. It's debut was Saturday night at the Civic Center for the season-opening performance of the symphony, and Friday was the installation.

Paul hard at work Friday afternoon.

One of the violinists checked out his photograph when he came in for rehearsal Friday.

This banner doesn't appear very big, but it's 16 feet long.

While we were working Friday afternoon, I heard someone playing the piano in the concert hall, and when there was a break in the action because Paul had to go to the office or the hardware store to get another part or tool, I tiptoed in to listen. 

It was the symphony's guest star performer, Nareh Arghamanyan, rehearsing. I enjoyed having a front row, private performance, noticing the sections she practiced the most, and getting a heads up on what the encore would be. Oh my goodness, what a phenomenon she is.

Tired as we were Friday night after finishing the installation, we went to Mama Logli's for a little Pigmania, Racko and jig saw puzzling. It's always good for Mama's spirits and ours as well.

Paul was back at work Saturday morning except on behalf of his parents. He spent five hours power-washing the exterior and deck of their house as the final step towards listing it for sale. They've moved into a retirement community and are loving it. It's like staying at a resort: indoor swimming pool, housekeeping service and a buffet restaurant. Since their new digs are in the same part of town and so much like their former house in layout and feel, except sized down, I think the transition has been easier emotionally on all concerned than we might otherwise have expected.

While Paul was helping his parents, I was making phone calls for Bruce BraleyStaci Appel and other Democratic candidates. It was a busman's holiday, though, for sure because all week long I've been calling genetic scientists every day for hours on end on behalf of one our Brainstorm clients. I must be really committed or masochistic to spend Saturday making yet again more phone calls.

When he was done power-washing, Paul dashed home to clean up and collect me, and we drove back to Paul's parents for dinner. We had planned to take them to a movie, but his mom was a bit too tuckered. 

Although I would have been happy to postpone it, Paul voted for still going to the movie because jazz pals Jason DanielsonTanner Taylor, Jim Eklof and Mark Grimm were playing later that night at The Continental, and Paul wanted to hear them. And what does that have to do with whether or not to see a movie? Since his buds weren't set to start playing until 9:00 PM, as tired as he was, Paul said that if we skipped the movie and went home after dinner, he'd crash and burn and never leave the house — so we went to the movie as a means of staying in Des Moines and staying awake. Such is the life of the wife of a trombone player.

My Old Lady stars Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas. Everything comes right in the end, but the movie was much darker (literally and figuratively — would it have killed them to bounce some light when they filmed??) than I anticipated, and some of it hit close to home for both of us. 

Four members of my Rotary Club were in the theater at that showing — David Walker, Paul Easter, Karma Cahill, and me. It made me laugh that we were all there. We should have had a signup sheet!

We were both DAT (dog-ass-tired) by Sunday, but it was back to the Civic Center for tear down, and since we were going to be there anyway, we didn't want to pass up the opportunity to take in the concert beforehand. Des Moines is fortunate to have such an excellent, well-supported, professional symphony.

First up was Procession of the Nobles from Miada by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. It was brisk and uplifting. Next was featured artist Nareh ArghamanyanShe's Armenian, and the piece she and the orchestra played was Piano Conterto in D-flat Major by Armenian composer Aram KhachaturianA mere 25 years old, Nareh is a brilliant pianist who has already made debut performances throughout Europe and the United States. She began playing the piano at age five, and ten years later she became the youngest student ever admitted to the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. She's just amazing.

The second half of the program offered Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, his so-called Classical symphony. I'm not a huge Prokofiev fan, but I've always liked this one. Paul thinks it's merely "okay", being philosophically opposed as he is to any piece that excludes trombones.

The last piece in the concert was the Suite from the Firebird by Igor Stravinsky, who BTW was a student of Rimsky-Korsakov's. It's perhaps Paul's all-time favorite piece of music ever written, and he teared up listening to it. I'd forgotten that I like this piece as much as I do, much more, actually, than the Prokofiev that I was all set beforehand to prefer.

After the concert, we tore down the exhibit, hauled it back to our office and unloaded it. On the way home we dropped off a birthday card, cupcake and candle at Dena Logli Randolph's in honor of her 96th birthday — and wondered what had become of our weekend.

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