I just told Lynn I would not be posting today, but then I remembered I haven't told you about the concert we attended Sunday evening. I was hibernating on Sunday with Christmas cookies and Christmas movies and laundry and vacuuming—an inside kind of day, as if any of my days are outside days. Anyway, my good friend and neighbor Jane called to invite Husband and I to attend a Canton Symphony Orchestra concert.
So, we went. We live approximately 25 minutes from where this orchestra performs, yet we have never been. It's a shame. The orchestra is very good, staffed mostly with graduate students from the Cleveland Institute of Music, from what I understand, and conducted by a bull.
Conductor Gerhardt Zimmermann is as broad as a Peterbilt, and despite his lack of height, he appears an imposing figure on the conductor's platform. We were waiting for the concert to begin and watching the acting concertmaster lead the group in tuning when whispers came over the PA system. We heard a man say, "Good God, what's going on here?" followed by sighs and laughter. The orchestra members giggled, and we all realized the conductor, still off stage, had turned on his lapel mic.
After a few minutes of awkward silence, he appeared on stage and took the podium. He then presented a very personal and moving eulogy in honor of a friend of his and the orchestras, and then he conducted Elgar's "Nimrod."
The piece was not on the program—I was waiting to hear Appalachian Spring, which was the soundtrack to my teenage years, so I was surprised but thrilled. There is something about "Nimrod," the way it begins so sorrowfully but then builds with hope and success, that makes me weep every time I hear it. I say success because I've read Elgar wrote it to tell the story of a particular event. He was depressed and ready to give up composing, feeling like a failure, when his friend and adviser, Augustus Jaeger, convinced him to keep going. Jaeger pushed him and saved him from giving up what was his passion and presumably his purpose.
The short piece ends softly the way it begins, but instead of feeling like sorrow, it feels like a sigh of relief. An all-is-well sigh. Everyone needs a friend to keep them from giving up, to keep pushing forward even when you feel as though you are failing. And at some point, everyone needs to be that friend.
And so, the rest of the concert program was a delight, but it was the surprise piece that made it memorable.