When the first violinist walked out to the head of the orchestra to lead the tuning, he walked through a narrow aisle between the violas. All I could think about was a scene from the movie “Airplane!” The stewardess asks to borrow a nun’s guitar to sing to the sick child and hits every passenger on the head on the way up to the front of the plane.
Thankfully that didn’t happen and no one was injured during the performance — even with all those violin bows thrusting and parrying.
From my perch in the balcony, the best seat in the house for this show, I could see the entire orchestra — almost. There were a couple of string players behind the curtain. But it was a great look at some of the people in the orchestra that usually hide behind everyone else. The trombones, the tubas, and the percussion section were all in easy sight.
In honor of President’s Day, the orchestra played Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” It included a spoken word portion in which an actor read the words that Lincoln spoke.
The words rang true in these difficult times, and I got goosebumps more than once.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country.”
That quote was taken from Lincoln’s State of the Union address on Dec. 1, 1862. The orchestra swelled as he finished excepts from the Gettysburg Address and from Lincoln’s debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858.
The words were powerful, the theater is intimate and the music filled the room.
The stage thinned out for the second piece, which was written by Mozart. I guessed almost half of the 65 members of the orchestra got up and left the stage, I wondered what was happening. I soon realized that there were no tubas when Mozart was alive, so the Fayetteville Orchestra didn’t need anyone to play modern instruments.
Valved instruments hadn’t been invented in Mozart’s time, so most of the brass instruments that require wind were difficult to play. It required great skill to play those instruments in tune, and there weren’t a lot of people who could do it. That’s probably why there were only two French horns playing during the Mozart piece.
But the best part of this performance was seeing who enjoyed it. Young people showed up as well as old people. The theater was fuller than the previous performance. It may not have been packed like sardines, but it was certainly a big jump in attendance compared with the previous show.
This Friday, “Remember the ’60s” will return to the theater after a a two-year absence. The ’60s was performed at the theater for 11 years before the Civic Center closed for renovations.
Neal Timpe is the Features editor at The Robesonian. Contact him at (910) 272-6149 or at email@example.com.