Early last week I received an unordinary email from my Mom. Getting electronic mail from my mother is far from rare, but the content of this message was atypical. In some fateful turn of events she had two members of her usual concert-going crowd cancel for the up-coming orchestra concert. Would the wife and I like to join? My answer was a quick YES!
After we verified our Friday evening availability we quickly secured the services of the baby sitter. Over the passing few days we setup dinner plans which ultimately ended up being lamentable, so I won’t elaborate about our meal here. And as quickly as I had said yes, Friday was upon us, dinner was done, and we walked into Severance Hall.
Those native to Cleveland, Ohio suarely know of Severance Hall, situated near downtown in the University Circle neighborhood. Since 1918 the Cleveland Orchestra has serenaded Clevelanders, and have done so in this hall since it opened in 1931. You can read more about the Mission & History of Severance Hall HERE. It is an amazing landmark which Cleveland is honored to have, both for the hall itself and the amazing Cleveland Orchestra who performs so beautifully within those walls.
Our evening entertainment was a salute to musical talent Marvin Hamlisch, who is best known for scoring movies, though he also gained notoriety early is his career for the Broadway show, A Chorus Line. The program featured Donna McKechnie, Jodi Benson and Doug LaBrecque, who brought their talent all the way from Broadway to our local stage. They more than just performed vocals, they also shared moments about their past experiences with Marvin Hamlisch who passed away August 6, 2012. Under the leadership of Carl Topilow, conducting, the concert included many of Marvin Hamlisch’s hits but also his lesser known works such as “Dreamers,” “Ordinary Miracles,” “One Song,” “Disneyland” and many others.
As the evening transpired I was whisked away by the depth of the music. During our drive home I caught myself day-dreaming. Not long ago there was a time, before cell phones and movie theaters. A time when entertainment was limited to music, books, or theater. Talent had to be witnessed in the flesh where you could truly feel the passion zinging around the room like some sort of electrical field of energy. It was personal, and sincere. And while it was often rehearsed, being there live made it somehow more real, more intense.
It was truly a pleasure to be able to witness talent on this level, to be in the same room as people such as those on the stage that night. And I couldn’t help but smile as I realized this evening was better than any “movie night date” that would be more typical in today’s society. We are lucky to live in a city with such a rich culture, boasting the second largest theater district in the country. Yet as I looked around me earlier that night I noted the average patrons age. Do folks of my generation realize what they are missing?
So I conclude with a simple suggestion. Forget about movie night. Next time you’re looking to get out of the house with your loved one, or even the whole family, remember the orchestra. Or consider catching a play. Support the smaller local community theaters and concert halls. Trust me, if you haven’t been in a while, you don’t know what you’re missing!