Kyle J. Steenblik

Geek Dad Report: Symphony + Costumes + Kids = Awesome

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IMAG0191What happens if you mix a world-class symphony with a Halloween costume contest and you add a couple kids?  You get a whole bunch of awesome.

Last night the Utah Symphony held its annual Halloween concert.  The night they open the doors, welcome children of all ages, and tell everyone to come in costume (if they want).  The costumes, by the way, include the musicians.  It is worth the price of admission to see someone playing the Cello in a full Gumby costume, or a clarinet dressed up as a clarinet.  This is a concert I try to attend every year; at least I did, before I reproduced.  Since then I have missed many things.  It has been seven years, and now my children, who I have spoken of before, are old enough to come along for the ride.  At least, I hoped they were, so I took a chance and brought them into what is usually a child free zone, Abravanel Hall.  This year it was a miniature cosplay convention sponsored by Salt Lake Comic Con (they are everywhere now).  I didn’t have my kids dressed up too much, a little mild zombie makeup.  My son, the youngest at 5, forgot he was in makeup until he saw himself in the bathroom mirror.  At which point he started to moan like the zombie he was and laugh hysterically.

IMAG0190I was terrified to take my children into this building of gilded walls and two-story hand blown glass sculpture.  I had gut wrenching nightmares of the destruction they could have inflicted.  This building and the symphony in general have a very special place in my and my wife’s hearts.  We will attend as frequently as possible, which is not as frequent as we would like.  We have waited for a long time now to share this with our children.  They aren’t quite old enough to sit through a full symphony, but that is OK, we have to start slow.  I think I say here, without looking too much like a music geek, there is something about live music that is nothing short of magic.  Sure, you can listen to anything you like on a high quality recording, through expensive hi-fi sound systems, but it will never have the awesome rich tones of vinyl a live orchestra.  It’s true, if you haven’t experience this at least once, you need to.  In fact, I will think less of each one of you until you do.

So there I am, between two kids who have not yet realized what is about to happen.  The lights dim.  The crowd falls silent (mostly, it was full of children so mostly silent).  The orchestra begins to tune, and the kids broke.  Seriously, they had no idea what was going on.  It was just auditory chaos, but what happened next, I will remember forever.  Their jaws dropped, they fell back into their seats, and they jumped at least two feet out of their skin, figuratively.  They literally did have a visceral response to the music, including humming along, pretending to conduct, and making strange sounds I think was some kind of fluid leak.

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I am pleased to say everything and everyone survived, and had a great time.  What is more important, my children now understand, even if they don’t follow it, the basics of proper theater etiquette.  This, if anyone is wondering, are the rules that people have forgotten when they go to the movies.  (I’m looking at you Chris Hadfield)  These basic rules of behavior have been lost on the younger generations, and yes, that sentiment did make me feel much, much older.  More important that how old I feel now, I have children that not only enjoyed the experience, but want more, and I am happy to give that to them.

The program this year was called A Superhero Halloween and they played: (with one intermission, the show was about two hours)

Igor Stravinsky “Danse Sacrale” from The Rite of Spring

Sergei Prokofiev March from The Love for Three Oranges, op. 33

Richard Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra, op. 30

Edward Elgar  “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations

Danny Elfman Batman Suite

John Williams  “The Flight To Neverland” from Hook

John Ottman  Suite from X2: X-Men United

Richard Wagner “The Ride of the Valkyries”

John Williams  “Imperial March” and “Main Title” from Star Wars

Danny Elfman  Spider-Man Suite

James Horner  “To the Rescue” from The Rocketeer

John Williams  Theme from Superman

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