My orchestra performed another Labor Day concert this past weekend. This was their tenth, and I think I've played in at least eight of those—I have this idea I missed a few, but I don't know for sure.
Anyway, it's a concert in the park with the cicadas in the trees and listeners on the lawn and stars in the sky, and it's lovely. We play pops sort of things with a few classical pieces, while the conductor, dressed in a white tuxedo jacket, leads us along.
Here is a snippet Husband captured from the Star Wars number—notice the cicadas underneath (or on top of) the orchestra:
This weekend, we performed a Haydn piece, William Tell Overture; theme pieces from Star Wars, Star Trek and Raiders of the Lost Arc; and more fun stuff like an original patriotic piece that is always moving, and an arrangement of Swing On A Star with the conductor singing. I'm a real sap for Going My Way and Barry Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby, so this is always a favorite of mine.
This upcoming orchestra season is going to feature The Planets by Gustav Holst spread out among the various concerts. And while the conductor was talking to the audience about that and stars and star gazing, I drifted off and remembered how I used to have a telescope of my own (note to the conductor: it's not that I wasn't listening to you. It's just that you reminded me of how I once went through a star gazing phase).
I had the telescope when Mars was particularly close to Earth, and I arranged to take my telescope to a house on the other side of the hill where there was a clear shot of the sky—in my own yard, I've got too many trees blocking the view, but from the other driveway, you could see for miles. I never quite learned how to use my telescope properly, but I was able to see Mars as a red ball in the sky, and I was amazed.
I don't have a telescope anymore, but I do have a little thing like a flashlight with stars from different hemispheres on attachments that you can switch out. I used it to figure out what was what from own back yard last summer, but now I have forgotten just about every constellation other than the Big Dipper.
I've read that playing music can trigger the brain to release dopamine, a mood-boosting hormone. I wasn't in a bad mood before the concert, but I can say clearly I was floating on my way home with the window rolled down and the moon full and yellow in the sky and Jupiter up there somewhere behind the clouds. I got home and poured a glass of white port shipped in from Sonoma, and I stood happy in the kitchen.
I don't currently have a glass of port in my hand, but if I did, I'd raise it and offer a toast to playing music with musicians better than me, to all the planets in the sky and to the end of summer. Sing with me—
And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo
everyday you see quite a few
so you see it's all up to you,
you could be better than you are
you could be swinging on a star.