Russell Wilson and Lady Ga Ga Go Classical in Seattle
by Cynthia Morrow
Okay, so it’s my dream as a Seattle Symphony, Seahawks, and Lady Ga Ga fan to put them all together and see what we get. It’s my Christmas wish this year. Last year it was “Peace In The Middle East,” and you see where that got me, so this year I’m asking Santa for something more do-able.
In my idealized Seattle Symphony Concert we’ll have our fantastic Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sitting in the commentator’s booth wearing a snazzy suit and tie. Next to him will be Lady Ga Ga in full swan regalia. Her white feathered boa keeps getting n the way of the wires of her headset and microphone, but she’s smiling and ready to go.
Lady GG: Well, Russell, I must say, you’re looking very GQ. Everyone seems pretty excited about this evening’s lineup here at Benaroya Hall.
RW: You’ve got that right, Lady G. The hall is filled with happy fans tonight who’ve been anticipating almost two full hours of classical music’s greatest hits, the kind of stuff that has kept music lovers in the Seattle area on the edge of their seats for well over a hundred years.
Lady GG: Right you are Russell. The Seattle Symphony was founded in 1903, and it’s never lost its sizzle.
RW: So what’s on the program this evening? I see that we have a soloist, am I right?
Lady GG: Itzhak Perlman is with us tonight performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, opus 64. It should take just under half an hour and it’s up first.
RW: Let’s look at the stats on that, shall we? Tonight’s concert will make 596 performances of this particular concerto by our soloist. Itzhak Perlman has performed this concerto all over the world, just last month in New York and Boston, but tonight he’s looking to make it 597 perfect performances in a row, a new record for him, and perhaps for anyone.
Lady GG: Oh, I don’t know about that, Russell. I believe that Isaac Stern played this piece 612 times in his lifetime.
RW: That’s true, Lady G, but I doubt if anyone could say that he played them all perfectly every time. (laughter in the booth) He’d been known to fumble on the cadenza of the third movement more than once in his long career.
Lady GG: Oh, like you haven’t dropped the ball on occasion?
RW: At least I didn’t trip on my own costume coming on stage...
Lady GG: Moving on. For the folks at home, you may not know that Itzhak Perlman has usually performed from his wheelchair, but lately he’s begun walking out onstage with crutches. Then he’s seated in a chair. What a brave guy! You’ve got to admire him just for that alone.
RW: That’s right, and he doesn’t let anything stop him from delivering a brilliant performance once he’s on that stage. By the way, he was born in 1945 in Israel, so that would make him...
Lady GG: A classic! And now check out the members of the orchestra as they warm up onstage. What do you think of their new uniforms Russell?
RW: Well, I love the black turtlenecks and slim black pants on the men, and the scoop neck three quarter sleeves and palazzo pants on the women. It really sets the orchestra apart as a contemporary, cutting edge ensemble. Very chic.
Lady GG: I’m glad they added a little color too. The red sashes really dress it up. You know, I think they’re the first American symphony to ditch the penguin suits.
RW: Hey, Seattle’s always been ahead of the curve when it comes to style. Don’t forget, this is the home of Grunge, the Seahawks, Microsoft, and great coffee. And speaking of great coffee, when you’re in the mood to settle back with a grammy winning Seattle Symphony recording on your iPod, there’s nothing like a cup of Seattle’s Best Coffee, sponsor of the great Seattle Symphony concert you’re about to hear tonight, to get you energized and fully engaged in the music.
Lady GG: I like to sing along. How about you, Russell? And for those of you at home watching us on Encore Pay-Per-View, take a minute to check out who’s in the house tonight. Our regular concertmaster, Alexander Velinzon will be leading the strings.
RW: What a tremendous bow arm this guy has. You know, I can’t take my eyes off him when he’s going for it in the orchestral solos.
Lady GG: He’s very good-looking, isn’t he? And ladies, how about the cutie sitting right behind him in the first violin section, one of the associate concertmasters Simon James? Plenty of eye candy here for us girls tonight, huh? I’m also kind of intrigued by the guy in the first violin section with the long beard and those red geometric eyeglasses.
RW: You’re talking about Clark Story. Yeah, he’s a character, and he plays excellent fiddle, I’ve gotta say. He’s been with the orchestra a long time now, but I never get tired of watching him hit those really fast tutti passages. Tremendous energy!
Lady GG: Mara Gearman is flirting and flashing those amazing dimples all the way to her chair in the viola section, and she looks like she’s finally ready to play the Mendelssohn. She’s whispering something to her stand partner and laughing. I’d give anything to know what she’s saying... The orchestra’s settling down now and there’s a hush in the hall....And here comes Itzhak Perlman on crutches, followed by the Seattle Symphony’s newest conductor, Ludovic Morlot, looking handsome and confident in his new lightweight black turtleneck. Sexy!
RW: The fans are on their feet and going wild! Have you ever heard applause like that in Benaroya Hall? I think the Twelfth Man is here tonight and giving it up for the orchestra. Seattle fans love these guys, I tell you.
Lady GG: And now, fans, here comes the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, three movements with Itzak Perlman, soloist. Enjoy!
Yeah, I know. It’ll never happen, but it should. I want great, fun personalities like Russell Wilson and Lady Ga Ga giving the fans a blow-by-blow of the pieces about to be performed, the soloists, and the inside dope on members of the orchestra.
Fortunately for me, Althea Stewart, the heroine of my Blanchard House Mysteries, feels the same way. She’s a violist, an amateur psychologist, a major snoop, and a true fan of the Seattle area and all of its crown jewels, including our fabulous Seahawks, Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and, of course, the Seattle Symphony. Maybe Cynthia Morrow can’t push the marketing directors of the orchestra into making the kind of changes that would bring in a bigger, more diverse audience, but perhaps Althea Stewart can.
You see, she’s not only inherited a bunch of money, but she’s just become the chairwoman of the Marvin and Annabelle Pratt Foundation, courtesy of her former mother-in-law Annabelle, and over the angry protestations of her alcoholic ex-husband Dennis, the Pratt’s only child. Althea wants Marvin Pratt’s bequest of 35 priceless string instruments to the Seattle Symphony to be used as a springboard for a major publicity campaign on behalf of the orchestra and classical music, only she’s not interested in the usual marketing strategies aimed at the old and the rich. No, she wants what I want, what younger fans want, a complete overhaul, sleek modern dress, pay TV, talking heads, personality-driven coverage, the works! Maybe that’s why I’ve come to like Althea Stewart so very much. She’s a pistol.
In the first three books of the Blanchard House Mysteries “Unstrung,” “Domestic Violins,” and the soon-to-be-released “The Trill Is Gone” we get to follow Althea Stewart and her friends into the world of contemporary classical musicians living among us but not being truly of us as they deal with music and mayhem. And of course there’s romance, intrigue, and food. Lots and lots of food.
So, tell the truth. Wouldn’t it be a kick to see Russell Wilson and Lady Ga Ga chatting it up with Ludovic Morlot backstage, or interviewing Yo Yo Ma? I think Althea Stewart’s on to something, don’t you? Santa, if you’re coming to Seattle this week, please think about it. We’ve been awfully good. And meanwhile, have a very Merry Christmas.
Unstrung and Domestic Violins by Cynthia Morrow available on amazon.com and ekindle.com