пʼятниця, 1 вересня 2017 р.

Patrick Leech - The Concert


Patrick Leech lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He enjoys reading, writing and birdwatching. 


***
"the concert"


It was quite a singular event. First of all, the orchestra was conducted by a foreigner, a man whose names was unfamiliar to us. He wore a brown vest, but besides that, his beard concealed any distinguishing features he may have had. The orchestra was placed on the stage, leaving the pit empty. A red runway divided the stage in half like two slabs of meat. The prelude was a quiet, plodding march with a sweet ringing melody, dominated by the wind section. One wondered at the purpose of the runway until, after a short pause, the violins mounted a major-key frisson and models began to issue from the darkness at the back of the stage. The first were a woman and child dressed as refugees from a war-torn country. Their features were hardly distinguishable, but several in the audience remarked, in hushed tones of course, at how convincingly they were made-up: "just as if they were real-life refugees!"

After them was an unremarkable looking man wearing glasses and a button-up short-sleeve shirt. The audience greeted this with a mixture of indifference and confusion. This was followed by an older, dignified-looking man wearing a suit, at which the audience was even more uncertain. As each model went past the conductor, the sway of his baton appeared to determine whether he or she would exit left or right. But one could not be sure whether that was the case, or if it was merely a trick of the light.

Some members of the audience looked around, the better to understand how all this was to be received. They had not been informed that such a procession would be part of the performance, but it was, after all, entertaining. Some looked at their programs for guidance, but in the low light, they were of little help. While countless models of every class and age passed on, the audience lost interest in trying to find a theme, a distinguishing characteristic or disposition. There seemed to be nothing that united them, nothing that tied the moment of each one's appearance to the music, and the order in which they appeared did not seem to narrate a story. They were, it seemed, simply people.

The music was very pretty, but little by little the audience's attention came to light on the conductor, who seemed himself to be conducted by the music in turn. Before long, I noticed that their eyes fell, not merely on him, since he was after all a somewhat ridiculous figure, swaying back and forth as he did, but particularly on his baton. Indeed, by the end of the third movement, they were not looking at the models or the conductor at all, but were all watching the baton. Was its tripping, lilting sway determined by the music? By the musicians? By the conductor alone? And if by the conductor, out of
design or caprice? Such questions captivated the minds of the audience members, and stranger ones still. Some, for example, even fancied that the baton was moving itself and, via the conductor, everyone and everything else.

As the third movement drew itself up to its final thunderous heights, the ushers went out into the audience, poking, admonishing, suggesting, encouraging and otherwise inciting the confused audience members to move to the back of the hall. But the orchestra was still playing, the piece nearing its exuberant denouement. Was there a fire? A problem with parking? No, replied the ushers, you are only being asked to join the procession.

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