By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be history, and if you come from a cheesy family like mine, you are likely thankful you have a year till the next awkward pre-meal go around the table with everyone having to say what they’re thankful for.
But as of this writing it’s still two days before, so here are some things classical that I’m thankful exist:
• That chaotic, tantalizing sound orchestras make when they’re warming up.
• Outdoor pops concerts with a blanket, a bottle of Zinfandel (red, not white), and some fried chicken.
• WSCI, 89.3. A few years back people were squawking when we lost an hour of classics to a dippy midday talk show, but music still plays 14 hours each day, plus World of Opera on Saturdays. I don’t always listen, but I’m glad it’s there, especially at night and on rainy days. I know some parents and teachers who use it to soothe kids. (Confession: I also listen to Your Day. Sue me. I like learning the names of bugs.)
• Coloratura Courtenay Budd at Spoleto Chamber Music. Okay, since she hasn’t sung here since ’04, I guess this is more of a gripe than a thanks. But a vocalist adds a colorful dimension to chamber music. I once saw her perform Menotti’s The Telephone with a red phone up to her ear. What can I say — I’m a sucker for props. Also for Southern blondes. Budd is from Newnan, Ga., went to Sewanee, and seems like someone you might know.
• Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Huger and King Streets. Charleston Symphony cellist Damian Kremer and his wife Asako, a CSO violinist, are co-music directors. On a recent Sunday, the Kremers and their close friend Jan-Marie Joyce, CSO principal violist, played Panis Angelicus and a largo from Handel’s Xerxes. Joyce’s husband Tom, the CSO’s bass trombonist, sometimes joins in as well and doubles as a choir loft babysitter for the couples’ collective five kids. Four core orchestra members in the parish is quite a coup for Sacred Heart, a humble vestige of when the upper half of the peninsula was populated by Irish, Greek, and Lebanese Catholics. The congregation now numbers about 80, mostly seniors.
• Chopin’s Polonaise in E flat Major, the “Grand” Polonaise. In high school I told my Latvian piano teacher I wanted to learn it. All she said was: “Good luck.” I stuck with my easy pieces.
• Viola jokes: Why do violists stand outside people’s houses? They can’t find the key and don’t know when to come in.
• Musicians who bring their instruments into bars for after-rehearsal drinks. The ostensible reason is that it’s safer than leaving it in your trunk. Personally, I think it’s akin to doctors who wear scrubs at Vickery’s. “What, oh, this? Why, yes, I am in the symphony, actually.” One night at Moe’s Crosstown, I think I saw the CSO’s Norbert Lewandowski’s cello case pop open — there were only crumpled-up newspapers in there.
• I’m only kidding. The contents of Lewandowski’s cello case on the evening of Oct. 12 remain unverified.