A night at the symphony

About six last night I discovered that the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony had a concert at 8 o'clock featuring a 21-year-old pianist doing the Brahms piano concerto in D minor. So, I jumped in the pickup and went down.

Got a good seat at the Reineke Fine Arts Center at NDSU, a fine little concert hall. The concert started with a Mozart symphony. I wasn't in the mood for forty minutes of Mozart. Found out afterwards that the conductor could have cut the time in half simply by not taking all the repeats.

Mozart sounds simple, but it requires perfection to be convincing. That perfection is rarely found in orchestras in smaller cities, although the F-M symphony made a noble attempt.

But the highlight of the evening was the Brahms. The pianist, Orion Weiss, had a 9-foot Steinway at his disposal and made good use of it. You could hear every note, even the quietest. Such is the charm of a Steinway. Even the softest sounds carry well.

Weiss was a charmer with a wild head of curls and a big smile. He played with passion, more than I've ever seen in a pianist. He swung his left leg back and forth as ballast for his other wild movements. At times he leaned back as far as you could imagine possible, at other times his nose neared the keys and his mop of hair draped down.

He received a long standing ovation at the end but seemed too shy to do an encore. He should have. They brought him in from New York and the 9-foot Steinway up from Minneapolis, the least he could have done was play a couple extra!

The crowd was polite and attentive. Those who were bored simply fell asleep. Nobody had pneumonia. No audible sniffling. Only two sneezes. No candy wrappers crinkling. One little girl insisted on playing with the velcro straps on her jacket throughout the quiet parts. Such behavior can make me homocidal. Not the little girls fault, however. Her mother didn't seem to care one hoot.

I am a fascist when it comes to concert behavior. If people talk during the performance, I turn around and stare at them until they shut up. I stared at the little girl with the velcro but it made no difference.

Talked to a lot of people I knew in the lobby. Customers, my former boss at Schmitt Music, acquaintances. This whole area, including Fargo and Grand Forks, is just one big small town.

The concert provided a warm ending to an otherwise cold and dreary day.