I’ve written about this one before (Don’t think she’s from around here). Now I know where she came from.
I took son Wil to the Macon Symphony last night. It was another wonderful performance, starting with a Ludwig van overture that was vaguely familiar to my unenlightened ears and ending with Bobby McDuffie playing an amazing Tchaikovsky violin concerto. More about this later . . .
I heard the familiar voice shortly after we were seated. It turns out that she’s actually not a season ticket holder, but she is related to one. I’m not sure, but I think she’s a frequent visitor to Macon. I’m also not sure what her vocation is, but she is obviously an expert on a broad range of topics, from symphony conductors to fermented yak’s milk.
That’s right . . . fermented yak’s milk. She started the evening’s discourse with a commentary on Berea, a small city in Eastern Kentucky (her hometown?). Apparently not much happens there, but that was not a limiting factor to the story. Her description of the town began with the recounting of an encounter in a grocery store with a visitor to Berea from Nepal. Mind you, our narrator was not particularly surprised that a visitor from Nepal could be encountered in a grocery store in Berea, KY. She was astounded when the visitor told her that he found Eastern Kentucky “a little boring.” How could Kentucky be boring in comparison to Nepal? After all, Berea is near Cincinatti!
“It’s a dry county, though,” she continued. “Maybe that was the problem.”
Her companion replied that she did not remember that Nepal was known for it’s affinity for alcohol or for it’s famous alcoholic beverages.
“No, they’re big drinkers,” replied the voice from Kentucky. “You know, they all drink that yak’s milk.”
I was fascinated, but the conversation was interrupted by the appearance of Adrian Gnam on the stage and the Macon Symphony began the evening’s performance. I am continually impressed with this fine group of musicians. I’m certainly not a classical music “aficionado.” I don’t know much, but I love the music. Last night’s performance was no disappointment. The short Beethoven piece and the Mozart symphony of the first half were wonderful, but the second half was amazing.
I went to high school briefly with Bobby McDuffie. He wouldn’t know me from Adam and I really don’t remember him very well, either. But, as my buddy Bubba would say, “That boy can flat play a fiddle.”
More precisely, an 18th century violin that’s probably worth more than the house we live in. He stood as he played . . . I think he had to to keep his balance. I wondered how much of what he was playing was actually written by Tchaikovsky and how much was interpretation or improvisation. The range of sound that McDuffie produced from the violin was amazing in itself, but more astounding was the coherence of it all. The four movements ranged from lyrical melodies to very complicated, difficult “duels” between the soloist and the orchestra.
Son Wil’s response was, “Way cool!”
Our visitor from Kentucky was also impressed, but not so much with the music. We didn’t hear much from her at intermission, but her commentary after the concert was certainly enlightening. She’s obviously got a thing against conductors, or at least our conductor. At the first show of the season, she had remarked that Adrian Gnam, the MSO conductor, was not “dynamic.” (Unfortunately, she missed the second concert of the season, when Gnam dressed as Superman as the MSO performed the John Williams overture.) Tonight, she was nonplussed with Gnam’s humor as he stepped briefly back on stage with a smile for a third round of applause before intermission. “He’s a control freak . . .” was the muttered comment from behind me.
After the concert, though, her attitude seemed to have improved a little. “You know,” she remarked to her companion, “that violinist seemed to have brought out a lot in your conductor. He really looked alive when the violinist was playing.” As we departed the Grand, she discoursed at length about the soloist, who she did not know by name, but who had been involved in “a bunch of workshops and things” of which she had intimate knowledge.
I’ve actually been to Berea, KY a couple of times and it didn’t seem like such a bad community to me, even despite the proximity to Cincinnatti. I haven’t heard the Berea, KY symphony or seen their conductor. I’m reluctant to blame the community for the negativity of their representative in the row behind me.
I’m sure she had an excuse . . . maybe it was just the fermented yak’s milk talking.