Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Open-Air Concert Survived a Shaky Start

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Open-Air Concert Survived a Shaky Start

Article excerpt

when, in the first movement of the Emperor Concerto,

as Beethoven tried to out-boom Napoleon,

a woodpecker countered with gibbers

and Bronx cheers. Next, every sprinkler

on the grassy amphitheatre squeaked on,

scattering listeners as if the Little General's cavalry

had thundered, sabers flashing, from the woods.

The Rondo took a whupping, too,

when a squirrel in the oak tree that shaded the stage

began banging acorns off the soloist

and his ebony Grand. The setting sun

scorched through the dark columns of trees

behind the stage, as the squirrel fled,

and a new soloist marched on. Her blonde hair

glowed, angelic as the tones she drew,

just tuning, from her violin. We strained forward,

envious, as her hands caressed Tchaikovsky.

She was deep into the canzonetta

where he mourns his unconsummated marriage,

when a woman's voice rose from the woods:

"Oh God," it trilled, a clear coloratura. "Oh, oh, oh!"

What could the soloist do but keep playing? …

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