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I’m a little late getting to this, but how about that Stanley Cup series? Any series that goes to a 7th game is special, and one where the outcome is in doubt in the last second is especially so. We were looking forward to watching the 7th game last Friday, and to rooting the Red Wings to victory over the Penguins. As you’ll recall from an earlier post, the Red Wings are one of the NHL’s original six, and I always root for an original six team over a newcomer. Plus, given our love for all things Detroit, we have to support them.

The thing is, we were invited two days before the game to go to the symphony. We have old friends who subscribe. They invite us every year or two to join them. (They have four seats.) The symphony started at 8:00 PM Friday. We left the house at 7:00, just as the third period started. The Penguins were up 2-0 at that point, to our disappointment. There was the possibility that the third period wouldn’t be too exciting. We set the DVR to record the rest of the game and listened to the first few minutes on the radio as we drove downtown. Then we put it out of our minds and enjoyed our evening in Benaroya Hall.

David Robertson, the music director of the St. Louis Symphony, was the guest conductor, and the violinist Leila Josefowicz was the featured soloist. The program consisted of two warhorses — Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain and Stravinsky’s The Firebird (the full ballet version, not the suite) — surrounding Thomas Adès’s recent violin concerto Concentric Paths . I wasn’t familiar with Josefowicz, but I should have been. She received a MacArthur Fellowship just last year in the most recent round of awards. Her citation says that she ” is stretching the mold of the classical violinist in her passionate advocacy of contemporary composers and their work. She is a close and regular collaborator with the leading composers of the day, often premiering their new compositions.”

When the time came to play the Adès piece, Robertson came out with Josefowicz, picked up a wireless mic, and provided a guide. He wanted us to understand that the concerto, though new, connected in obvious ways to older music such as Bach’s solo violin pieces. Josefowicz demonstrated, playing a few seconds of Bach’s Chaconne and then, with the orchestra, the opening of the concerto’s second movement. Robertson also explained that in contrast to classical concertos, in which the soloist and orchestra responded to and opposed each other, in this concerto the orchestra played motifs that grew out of the soloist’s parts. Or something like that. Then the concerto commenced.

I would guess that Robertson’s gambit worked, making the audience more sympathetic to the concerto. And Josefowicz put on quite a visual display, bending at the knees and leaning dramatically back as she played. If it weren’t for forward tilt her heels provided, she would have fallen flat on her back.

The Firebird, not surprisingly, was the real crowd pleaser. Those last few minutes, starting with the horn solo, are so dramatic. And we had a pleasant surprise: one of the three harpists was Gail’s harp-playing friend from childhood. Well, I wasn’t too surprised once I saw, on our return from the lobby after intermission, that the stage had three harps. There just aren’t that many high-level professional harpists in Seattle. John had to be one of the players, and he was.

But back to the hockey. We came home, started up the DVR, and zipped through the third period until the Red Wings scored a goal with 6 minutes and 7 seconds left. Then we watched closely, eagerly, excitedly. And what a final minute. What a final second. The Red Wings just missed tying the game at the last moment. When it ended, Gail was too disappointed to keep watching, but I watched. There’s nothing quite like the end of a Stanley Cup series in major North American team sports. The players care so much about the cup. And the fans do too. It’s like a religious rite, as the cup is brought on the ice and awarded to the winners. Well into the rite, NBC showed the two last-second saves Fleury made to preserve the Penguins’ victory. Amazing.

Categories: Music, Sports
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