Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Okay, so I'm not really up on my culture...

...but I understand now why cardboard angel wings just wouldn't have cut it.

I figured the little event we attended last night would be your normal, 'little kid' sort of affair, but we got back downtown and I noticed a whole lot of folks in church clothes and teenaged choiristas dressed in tuxedos and formal gowns and figured that this might be a pretty big deal.

Turns out it is--this was the 54th (!) Annual Music Festival, sponsored by the Jefferson County Board of Education's Department of Arts Education. 41 music teachers from across the county, 54 elementary, middle, and high schools, and over a THOUSAND student singers and musicians.

It was held at Boutwell Auditorium, a grand old pile of bricks and concrete built in 1925, which, if you pulled off the highly unsympathetic late-50s, early-'60s additions, has a bit of the Romanesque look of the old Ryman Auditorium. (I looked in vain for some online photos to link to. Sorry, no dice.) We got there about an hour ahead of time and it was already buzzing like a hornet's nest. Rebecca had her sack full of angel duds and she and Mom went down to get set up while the rest of us searched for a seat.

The auditorium has a horseshoe-shaped seating arrangement, and the choirs and ensembles were all assembled down on the floor, and I had only a vague idea of where Rebecca's group was supposed to sit. Obviously, I picked wrong. They were sitting stage right, so we sat on the opposite side, section K, row E, behind the high school choir. (This actually turned out to be pretty good for watching the whole show.)

Being an ancient old place, the seats don't have much legroom, and the stair risers vary from row to row from a not-at-all-manageable 9 inches to what seemed like 3 feet, which was fun with three kids in tow. But, at least we found seats, although Catherine would only sit in one for about three seconds at a time. Up. Down. Up. Down. Whispered threat. Up. Down. Grr. Part of the problem was that the pants she had on were too big for her and kept riding down, and the other was her microscopic bladder was full. Reba finally found us after a few minutes and had just got sat down when she had to get right back up and take SOMEone to the potty. (Not me.)

The folks in front of us liked to talk on their cell phones. Paw-paw had one, and so did Mee-maw. And they just HAD to stand to talk. I don't know why. They would sit down, then decide they needed to call Bobby Ed, so they would stand up. At least they didn't do it during the show. Although, when the rest of their extended family showed up, Jimmy Earl brought his spankin' new big ol' digital cammer, with the monopod, and the foot long telephoto lens, and the bright-as-a-nuclear-blast flash attachment that stood up on its own little contraption about a foot above his head.

You know, right in my line of sight.

But, it's okay, because him and Little Junior and Teensy and Wanda and Big Junior and Paw-paw and Mee-maw all had a good time.

Reba got back from the plumbing showroom and sat down, just as a threesome spotted the empty seats beside me. "Those taken?" I wish.

Mom, daughter, and Andre the Giant. He made a grand, valiant effort to squinch himself down into the seat, but he would have had to have been a double amputee to get his legs in. Five seconds in, and he was about to become one big fleshy explosion--like biscuit dough popping out of a can. So, they got up and came right back out, apologizing profusely for once again having to tromple over the five of us.

No problem.

They left, but were soon replaced by a single lady, who thankfully sat in the middle seat so I wouldn't fight with her over the armrest. She was soon joined by her husband, who was perfectly spherical. She let him have the middle chair, which was fine, because I KNEW I would lose to him in an armrest fight. She moved over next to me. ::sigh:: Then he flung his arm around her shoulder to draw her close to his heaving, quivering, dugong-like bulk, and in doing so, he rather roughly got part of my shoulder. I briefly entertained the idea of gently stroking the back of his hand just to unnerve him, but I thought better of it.

More people poured in--kids all dressed up, looking both cool and uncomfortable at the same time, proud moms and dads and squealing babies. The show finally got underway at 7:30--the guest conductor for the evening was Ken Berg (a pretty big whooptee-do himself) and the program had a full slate of 15 songs.

What can I say? Despite acoustics that would rival the finest prison dining halls, these young people sounded glorious. The elementary choir (the biggest group--must have been close to 300 of them) sang Angel's Lullaby, Angels Divine (arranged by Debbie Ellis, one of the conductors), Ding-Dong Merrily on High, Chatter with the Angels, The Angels Sing (the big finale with all the choirs joining in), and the big production number Christmas Eve Blues, which is the one requiring halo and wings.

Cute--pantomimed to the words of the choir, the gist of it was that Rudolph was not going to be able to lead the sleigh because of a nasty head cold. 11 little angels come flittering in and crowd around and tend to him, then 8 of them flank Santa and help him do some sort of a chorus line. Oddly thrilling. Rebecca was one of the ones who stayed behind while the others went and shimmied with Kris Kringle, because she knows good angels aren't supposed to dance with portly men in fur.

Of all the performances, though, I think my favorite was one by the high school choir, with accompaniment of a percussion ensemble from Shades Valley, and a solo by Josh Marshall from Clay-Chalkville. It was called Betelehemu, a Nigerian carol by Via Olatunji and Wendell Whalum and arranged by Barrington Brooks. There aren't enough superlatives to say what a great job everyone did.

Wonderful evening, and a tremendous effort by everyone involved.

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