Last night was a flash back to my childhood in the 1950's as we enjoyed an evening at Roy Thompson Hall. It was a Toronto Symphony Orchestra event called Last Night of the Proms. In our house and in the small one room country school we attended, our family enjoyed the post war British Empire songs and traditions, all the way from the dreaded tomato aspic to God Save The Queen. We sadly didn't get to turn our nose up at tomato aspic (good God, who invented that concoction?) but we did enjoy the many verses of God Save The Queen as belted out by the Mendelssohn Choir. Quite chilling actually.
This annual concert is traditionally an opportunity for the orchestra to be silly with a repertoire of classics (Love and Marriage) and more popular British patriotic pieces (Land of Hope and Glory) in the second half. That great song, We'll Meet Again was uplifting but the highlight might have been when the entire hall burst into Rule Britannia. I swear I could see the soldiers travelling the world in the 19th Century pillaging country after country and bringing British commerce to the backward societies who just didn't know any better. Really made me proud of my British/Scottish heritage.
The evening began at the new TIFF restaurant across the street where we dined with our friend Kristen Bruya, the TSO's Assistant Principal Bassist.
Her uncle in Spokane knows my sister Judy who lives in Spokane and one thing led to another... you know how small the world is. Kristen reserved us tickets - our seats were fantastic (although our view of Kristen wasn't that great) as we sat and sang and enjoyed the show both on stage and off. The audience was a blast from the past... white haired flag waving elders happily reminiscing to the music and the fun banter from the conductor, Grant Llewellyn.
Grant asked for everyone who has been married for over 50 years (to the same person) to stand up and guess what? The entire hall (except Karen and I) stood up. That gives you a pretty good idea of the demographic in attendance.
Classical music has this annoying habit of taking themselves and their music seriously. This attitude flies in the face of Whiskey Jack's attitude that nothing is sacred and all must be mocked and made fun of. Well, last night, the TSO and the MC had the Whiskey Jack gene because they played and played all night. During the clarinet solo, the choir read newspapers and talked amongst themselves. Now, who hasn't wanted to do that during the clarinet solo?
During intermission, Kristen took me back stage to meet a bluegrass fiddler who dabbles in classical music (or is it the other way around?). Her name is Leslie Dawn Knowles. Check out her video on her website and decide for yourself. If you've ever been to see the TSO, she's the glamorous fiddler in the front. You can't miss her. I'll have to figure out some way to get her on stage with Whiskey Jack at the Cadillac Lounge in the fall.