Friday, January 18, 2013

Memorable Music

It's been an exhausting couple of weeks with Ian away doing Army things, but he should be home tonight.  (And then I will hug him and kiss him and smile and then run away to where nobody wants anything from me for an hour or more).

For the most part it's all been pretty good.  I like being in charge of the house and spending so much time with my kids and picking them up from school, etc.  This past week we also have had two extra kids sleeping over to help out a friend in the National Guard who had her own assignment out of town.

I've learned that five kids is more than three kids.  It's like leading around a field trip all the time.  And the amount of food five kids consume is impressive.  I'm feeling stretched pretty thin between all the responsibilities at work and with the dog plus managing five kids' worth of meals and activities and homework and just general mood control.  I mentioned Ian's coming home, right?  I've paced myself well, but wonder again how I did single parenting alone for a couple of years.  Even when everything goes without a hitch it's not easy.

Despite the busy schedule, though, I got to squeeze in something wonderful.  I found out right after Ian left that Itzhak Perlman was going to do a single performance with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.  My memories of Itzhak Perlman go back to Sesame Street.  I have heard him play on television and in recordings numerous times, but never live, and he was going to be performing the glorious Beethoven Violin Concerto in D.  In the first half of the program the orchestra was going to be playing Beethoven's 5th Symphony.  If there was ever a perfect concert to take a young violinist to, this was it, and all I could think was how wonderful it would be to go with Aden.  She's eleven, and is somewhere in the middle of Suzuki Violin Book 2.  I couldn't think of anyone else in the world better to go with.

So I got online and ordered whatever cheaper tickets were still available.  I panicked a little the day of the concert when our babysitter fell sick, but our neighbor, Julie (nicest neighbor in the world), was kind enough to put four kids to bed on short notice and enable us to go.

What a night.  We had crazy seats: The first two on the end of the front row pressed right against the wall of the pit.  It was a little weird because when the house lights went down and the stage lights went up we were illuminated along with the orchestra, and we were right at the feet of people I know and sometimes perform with.  I was close enough to follow their music, and to tell you the truth the Beethoven symphony made me a tad anxious because it was hard not to worry about certain entrances and rests even though I was supposed to be just listening for a change.  I once crashed down on a rest with a chord in the wrong place during a rehearsal of Beethoven's 5th back in college and the conductor surveyed the viola section with intense disapproval saying, "I don't know which one of you did that, but Never. Do it. Again."  So I may have a little bit of Beethoven 5 PTSD.

Regardless, it's still one of the most exciting things in all the world, even if I have heard it a million times.  I always groan when I see it on a schedule and then once we start playing it I think, "Oh yeah, this is why we do it.  It's great." 

In any case, Aden was rapt.  I glanced over at her a couple of times and admired her beautiful, upturned face, blue eyes bright with stage lights.  I can't believe she's growing up so fast, but it's remarkable to have reached a point where I can attend a serious concert with my daughter and carry on conversations with her where I'm interested in her opinions and observations, not just nodding along and asking her questions along the lines of what color things are like when she was small and we just practiced at talking together.  She's a charming young person and she's going to be a lovely adult all too soon.

At intermission we bought an overpriced cup of fruit to share, got some water, found a restroom without a line, and made it back to our seats in plenty of time for the second half of the show.  Aden was giddy and held my hand.  She didn't know who Itzhak Perlman was, only that I was excited to see him play and that was enough to make her happy, too.  I explained he'd suffered polio as a child so he needed braces on his legs and required crutches to get on stage.  I told her the piece he'd be performing he's known by heart since before I was born.

Mr Perlman came onto the stage right in front of where we were sitting.  (We could have reached out and touched him if we'd wanted to get thrown out of the hall.)  We could see him so clearly as he played, and Aden told me she loved how animated his face was, that he looked like he was talking.  She described his hands as big, but delicate.  She loved how graceful he was with his playing in contrast to his painfully clumsy walk.  She was enthralled by the double stop sections of the cadenzas that made it sound as if more than one person was playing.  She loved it all.

And so did I.  It went by too fast.

When you have a child you hope you will be able to share with him or her the things you love and that your child will love them as well.  I hoped I might have a child who wanted to play violin and would enjoy some of the same music that means so much to me, but I didn't count on it.  If none of my children were interested in music that would have been fine.  We'd have found other common ground.  But what a gift to find myself sitting in that hall, listening to Itzhak Perlman himself, with my sweet girl smiling at my side.  It's more than I could have dreamed for.  Because I think that's a concert we'll always remember, not just for the music, but for the fact that we got to share it with each other.

In the future Aden will probably remember it as the night we saw Itzhak Perlman.  But on our drive home she said the night was special because she got to be with me.  Could I be a happier mom?  (No, no I could not.)


  1. That's not Beethoven PTSD. That's Professor Haddock PTSD. We all have that. -M

    1. Ah, you're probably right. I'll never forget how after we played so well for Robert Shaw who was so nice to us, Professor Haddock asked, "Why don't you play that way for me!?!"

  2. What a beautiful memory for both of you, she sounds like a delightful daughter!

  3. Sounds like a beautiful - and desperately hard earned - evening!

  4. What a beautiful memory for your girl. :o)

    I'm so happy your husband has returned. I can't imagine adding three more children to my life. You are a wonderful woman to do so.