Tag Archives: Louis Armstrong

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder……

This is a warning and a blessing for those of us who are aging….which is all of us………..there are some upsides to technological ignorance.

My husband and I took my Mom, who is a very “with it” 85 year-old, who uses her own computer and iPad, to an orchestral pop’s concert yesterday afternoon. What intrigued me about the ad I read in the paper (yes, I do still read an actual newspaper) was that the theme of this concert was Ellis Island. The concert would include live performance pieces and a series of photos on a large screen to add to the music accompaniment. It was a new piece and had been around the world and shown on Public Television. “Wow!” I thought, “this would be great for all ages!” Honestly, though the average age in that audience was easily 90 or above.  I guess Ellis Island has a certain age appeal. Now that I think of it,  most of the ads in the program were for home care and assisted living. Not kidding.

The concert is held in a beautiful fairly new theater in a local public middle school. This theater is pretty darn magnificent for 11 to 14 year-olds. My theatrical-career-yearning heart is sobbing over the cafegymatorium we used for our productions in my high school in the ’70’s. Nonetheless, I am impressed and happy to be in a theater this beautiful and with all kinds of groovy acoustic equipment, lighting panels and comfy, cushy seats for this Ellis Island extravaganza.

I tell the ticket seller that I’m excited for the concert. And he, appearing to be a long time volunteer for the orchestra says” “Well, it’s different, hope you like it!”

But, not so different from any other Pops, I think. The first half is music from Fiddler on the Roof, and a tribute to Louis Armstrong. It’s wonderful and fun to hear. Then a short break and the Ellis Island themed presentation begins.

A huge projection screen slowly decends down from the ceiling, the maestro appears, the audience claps heartily and the music begins. It’s lovely. the screen projects a million dots in gray, black and white and then ‘pulls out’ so that the photo you see is actually millions of people on the deck of a boat. There is not an empty space between any of the heads. It’s overwhelming. The photos continue with individual pictures of immigrants and places on Ellis Island. The change in each photo is timed perfectly to the music. It is grand.

The first actor appears. She reads a charming account of an immigrant from Rumania, all the while beautiful music is lowly playing behind her. When she is finished, she leaves the stage and the music begins again in real earnest. The projection screen lights up and an error message appears….”NO SIGNAL.” Again, the screen goes from gray to the cursed blue of noncompliance, and the same error message appears. There’s a tiny little groan in the audience….mostly from people under 60, I think. We all know what that error message means. And, that’s it for the photo display. The rest of the concert takes about 40 minutes and never another photo is shown.

Six more actors appear. The music continues, and it’s really quite beautiful. But the whole time now I am literally having an internal boxing match with myself about why this stupid technology isn’t working, and can’t they fix it, and just put up some pictures, and hasn’t this ever happened before, where’s the back up plan and just UGH!!!! So it’s a good concert…..no really, it is…..but I’m  a victim of my techno-google-pc(that’s private computer not politically correct)time, and I can’t get this dumb error out of my head. I’m feeling cheated of half the performance.

The show ends with all seven actors reciting Emma Lazarus’ poem that is engraved on the Statue of Liberty. When they finish the recitation they all raise one arm to the screen, where I imagine the Statue of Liberty is supposed to appear. Nope, just a blank screen.

The crowd goes wild, struggles with their seat handles and their coats and programs to raise their sweet bent old bodies for a standing ovation. And then it hits me. Maybe 5 per cent of this audience knows what went wrong. So I do a survey of one, to my Mom:

“So, how did you like it?” I ask

“It was wonderful! Thanks so much for bringing me, it was really beautiful. The music was beautiful and the actors were great. I really enjoyed it.”

“Did you notice anything wrong?”

“No, what? It seemed fine to me. What?”

“After the first actor the projector didn’t work, there was an error message and no more photos. And at the end the actors raised there hands to indicate something on the screen, but nothing was there. You didn’t see that??”

“Nope. Loved it. It was beautiful.”

See….there are distinct advantages to aging…

You just have to Laugh……

Cathy Sikorski