So, last week, shortly after I started hurling free concert tickets around the internets, I got the sweetest e-mail from a band teacher down near Rochester, Minnesota, who didn’t want to ask for his tickets on the blog, lest a certain someone see his request…
I just read your posting regarding this Friday’s concert. My girlfriend and I are huge fans (and frequent guests of MnOrch). Her favorite symphony is Dvorak’s 8th, and I have been planning on proposing to her following this concert since the schedule came out last winter. A free ticket would be a wonderful addition to our night; she has NO IDEA that this is coming but will be thrilled, especially given the beautiful forecast (since I’ll be proposing outside on the mall).
How romantic is that? Dude not only knows what his girlfriend’s favorite symphony is, he’s built his proposal around it! That is so much cooler than those guys who put their proposal up on the JumboTron at the ballpark.
Anyway, I, of course, set aside a couple of tickets for Michael and his girlfriend, Justine, and tried to send some good vibes and courage his way for his big moment after Friday night’s concert. I’m guessing that, when all the fire alarms at Orchestra Hall started going off twenty minutes before concert time and we had to evacuate the building, he was not an internally calm young man.
But fortunately, the MFD gave us the all clear a scant 15 minutes after we’d all traipsed outside (the motor on our freight elevator had apparently shorted out and triggered the alarm,) and we started the concert only about ten minutes late. I thought it went pretty well, overall, and the crowd was fantastic all night. When we finished the Dvorak and the room filled with cheers, I turned to violist Ben Ullery and said, “There’s a guy in the tenth row who just started sweating.”
Or maybe he didn’t. This afternoon, this account of the evening arrived in my inbox…
When introducing the concept of actually listening to classical music to my high school music students, I always begin with my first Minnesota Orchestra experience; I tell them that I did not go to hear Burt Hara’s warm, robust tone on Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, on the contrary, I went to impress a girl (and impress her I did.) I have been hooked on the Minnesota Orchestra ever since and for years to follow the two of us, as friends and later as a couple, have been regular supporters and patrons of this excellent ensemble.
Maybe we go a bit over-the-top at times, like when the orchestra’s concert schedule is released each winter, we sit down like two sports fanatics talking about season tickets (and dreaming of one day having a season package of our own). When going over the 2010-2011 schedule, there was one concert that stood out above all of the rest, that was this past Friday’s concert featuring Gilbert Varga, Tony Ross, and (her favorite symphony) Dvorak’s 8th. My planning began upon seeing this; over the last few months I have avoided any talk of engagements or weddings, appearing focused on purchasing non-ring related items, and talking of vacations and getaways, all to hide the fact that I was planning each and every detail leading up to the October concert. (This may not seem like the wisest of ideas, but I can tell you that this ending is more Beethoven 9 than Tchaikovsky 6…)
Thanks to the orchestra and Sam Bergman, I received two tickets to the concert as part of a promotion for Gilbert Varga’s guest appearance (he was truly fantastic!); the tickets were at will call, dinner plans were set, and a bottle of champagne and two glasses were across the street at the Minneapolis Hilton. The concert was, as always, breath taking; Anthony Ross’ rendition of Walton’s Cello Concerto was commanding and Dvorak’s 8th brought tears to her eyes. Following a strong “BRAVO!!!” and clapping until our hands were red, I brought Justine out to Peavey Plaza in the cold October air and gazed deeply into her beautiful eyes. Minutes after listening to the bombastic fanfare of Dvorak’s 4 movement, we were enclosed in nighttime silence; with a smile on my face, I knelt down in front of her, speaking of my true love for her, and asked her to marry me. With a touch of disbelief and a few fresh tears streaming down her face, she said “Yes! … Yes, Yes, Yes!”
The Minnesota Orchestra continues to perform as the soundtrack to our lives; lives that we hope to be long, healthy, and happy. After all, a great symphony isn’t about the individual notes on the page; it’s about the context in which we hear the music in our every day lives. Thanks to the Minnesota Orchestra, Dvorak’s 8th Symphony will always bring tears of joy to her face and the rush of true love to my heart.
Michael S. Pearson and Justine Schwartz
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