Monday, June 27, 2011

A Night of Shining Armor

Last year, in a spate of gratitude for (or guilt) those wonderful chamber music concerts  during the Blossom-Kent Summer program, I made a small contribution to the program. So about a month ago I received an invitation to an evening piano recital at one of those homes with a name, somewhere in the wilds of Trumbull County. I checked with my friend Ann who knows about this sort of thing and she said that it would probably be a fund raiser the the School of Music and that she knew nothing about this place or the host, but did know the name of the featured pianist, a recent graduate of the School of Music. Since the venue was rather out of the way, a small bus had been obtained to get a group of directionally challenged music lovers there in one piece and on time.
The invitation had mentioned "refreshments" and a coffee bar, so I didn't bother to eat before hand, expecting lavish hors d'ouvres one would expect at a house with a name. Down a winding driveway, we arrived at a rather large parking lot and proceeded to the recital site. First thing was a Phillip Johnson-esque pool house, without a pool in it, overlooking a grand stone patio with seats for several hundred, that over looking a pond, that being overlooked by - a WHITE grand piano! I expected Fred and Ginger to come dancing out of the shrubbery. Or at least a white peacock or two. There was a large, covered  bar, where wine and soft drinks were being dispensed by a couple of cheery young women, shockingly NOT in uniform, the sort that should have had the name of the house embroidered thereon. Well, a busy host can't be expected to cover every freaking little detail.
Said host is a gastro- enterologist and there is obviously a LOT of money in gutwotk. A wandering musician pointed out the host. The doctor was wearing a suit, the likes of which has not been seen since the demise of the Rat Pack. It glowed. Pale blue, pale greenish stripes with a hint of coral.  It shone. It dazzled. It blazed into the late summer afternoon murk like unto a Sicilian donkey cart. It could not be missed. You coulda read the Sunday NYTimes by it. I never got closer than 15 feet, but that suit was burned into the very synapses of my brain. I can't tell you how old this dude is because the glow obscured his face. And he was wearing a bright red tie.
After an hour of chatting and thinking that any  minute a phalanx of Nubian slaves would arrive bearing figs and pomegranates, it became apparent that "refreshments" meant inhaling liquids available at the bar, where our bus driver had stationed himself while imbibing quantities of wine. I wouldn't have bee too upset by the lack of noshery, except that on the bus we had been told there would be stuff before the recital and dessert and coffee afterwards. That seemed official to me, but was not to be. We immediately faulted the host, of course. It was his place where we were stuck foodless.
At any rate, it was time for the recital and the host introduced the pianist and praised the School of Music for training him. The host loves Ravel and had been bowled over by the pianist's rendition of a Ravel Piano Concert lat year at the university.  So there was music, accompanied by a few growling stomachs. The white piano had suffered a bit from its exposure to the damp air, but it was a very pleasant concert, including another music school graduate, a violinist.
Afterwards there was a not too subtle hint about supporting the School of Music, which is certainly a worthy cause. I fear it fell on empty stomachs, alas. The hope was that the host had invited other wealthy locals who would cough up some dinero and pledge to support the program. Food would have helped.
Then the host thanked everyone who had helped him put the evening more or less together - his office staff, his office manager and her daughters, his gardener, his landscaper and, in passing, mentioned that he has an art advisor, who was probably glad that no names were mentioned. He also announced that he had some big fund-raisers coming up at one of which the big draw would be one of the professional dancers from - wait for it - "Dancing With the Stars," Yay!
Now I know it's easy to make fun of tasteless rich people, so I  must say that I think this shiny man was sincere in his desire to honor this young musician and provide him with a lovely venue for the recital, along with an apperciative audience. I feel like a bit of a snob for being so critical. He needed a party planner and a suit advisor, but I am sure that the pianist and his family were thrilled by the evening, as they should be. I think the host wants to use his money for good as a responsible community member. I'm not sure that he's the one who dropped the ball, food-wise, and it certainly was an evening to remember.
Ann and I hitched a ride home via friends, not being sure the bus driver was entirely road ready.

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