Wednesday, April 8, 2015

First Word: Larissa Higgins: Trip

            A Capital Ship for an Ocean Trip was the Walloping Window Blind. 
            No Wind that Blew Dismayed her Crew, or troubled the Captain's Mind -
Eighty children roaring out the chanty – hands in white gloves crisply snapping to attention on the upbeats - precise and natty in the full salute, half-mast, hauling the music up the main mast, carried along on the rollicking waves of song.
            We looked splendid, we sounded splendid - we knew it, and such a relief after that last fiasco -
            Who wants to hear a modern atonal tone poem, sung in Finnish by American adolescents?  Who composes such a disaster - hands it to the director of a children's choir and blithely says "I wrote this specially for you?" 
            Finnish is one of the world’s worst, if you weren’t born to it.  We couldn't stick it.   Not the landing, not any of the other sections.  We barely wallowed through the introductory phrases - those had melody, but once into hit the middle passages those strange unkeyed syllables would not - could not - hold in our memories. We practiced for months, wallowing to a sluggish stop half way through, but our director was ambitious.  She launched it at a concert for uptown bankers - and we sank. 
            First the sopranos, drying up on the high shiver bits, then the lone bass lost the following beat, and, at last, out of tempo with the piano, the altos drizzled to a trailing terminal stop. 
            The silence rang out and we melted into the stage.  Our director (we cursed her, silently, round American tones) gave a tinkling laugh. 
            "A privilege, gentlemen - and ladies, what a privilege - yes.  A brand new work, composed - most eminently, for you, for your privilege - a view of how a work develops, what a thing – a privilege - " 
            Blessedly she stopped.  The silence stretched.  Gathering herself, she raised her baton - we rose to hopeful attention - and - 
            Bam! Down it came and off we roared - landed magnificently, safe on the seas of salvage -
            We’d catch the morning train 
            And cross the bounding main 
            Off to our loves in our natty white gloves 
            Ten Thousand Miles Away! 
            Thank God.

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