Standing O … No Standing O

It had been 50 years since I’d heard the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  I played cello from Grade 6 till Grade 13.  Sadly, I told myself I wasn’t good enough to continue playing in university … and I believed me.

As a teenager, I loved going to the ancient Massey Hall to hear the TSO, and once, as a member of the University of Toronto Chorus, I got to sing with them in that classic concert hall.  Lucky me!

And now … it’s now.  Decades later, and the TSO resides elsewhere – in the Roy Thomson Hall.  And they’ve been there for 36 years!  Time marches on.

I went to hear my old friends last night, although none of the 1969 orchestra members were still playing.  The feature work was The Planets by Gustav Holst.  I sat in a concert hall that was brand new to me, set in a  circular arrangement with very steep seating.  I liked it but I wasn’t gasping.

And then the music.  The first piece was a funeral dedication from the composer to his mentor.  Such sadness in the melodies, but strangely I wasn’t moved.

Then a piece featuring a virtuoso trumpet player.  What tone!  What sublime moments!  Yes, I was moved.

After intermission, Mr. Trumpet walks to the front of the stage and says “Tonight is special.  One of our musicians is retiring.  You were very generous to me with your applause after I played for 25 minutes.  Gord has been playing for you for 41 years!”  And we stood as one to honour this man. He cried.

Finally, The Planets.  It celebrated the members of our solar system.  Parts I enjoyed, parts not.  Not once, however, was I transported to sweet worlds.

At the end of it all, many folks stood and applauded.  I sat and applauded.  Not touched, not standing.  Is there something wrong with me?  No.  Is there something wrong with the music?  No.  I stand immediately when heavens enter me.  Not this time.  And “considered” standing O’s, when you look around to see what other folks are doing? No thanks.

I learned more about me last night.  I’m glad.

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