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This past Saturday, September 22, was the first concert of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra’s 81st season. Jaime Jost, a UMD graduate student and longtime Superior resident, received a complimentary ticket from a DSSO french horn player, Gwen Hoberg, and agreed to share her concert experience with the Reader Weekly.
Jaime had two parties to attend that afternoon, so she couldn’t meet up with her two fellow concert-goers, Caroline and Mary, for dinner or drinks before the concert. “I was hanging out with my 7-year-old niece, playing Barbies,” Jaime laughed. But she did stop at Caribou right before arriving at the DECC because she was worried the concert would put her to sleep. At family gatherings during holidays, she explained, classical music sometimes relaxes her so much that she gets drowsy.
She met Caroline, Mary, and Gwen in the lobby 15 minutes before the concert. Gwen went backstage to warm up, and after waiting in line for Mary’s ticket, the others went directly up to their seats. “I slammed the rest of my coffee because I wasn’t sure I could have it in the hall,” Jaime noted.
Excited to see someone she knew on the stage, Caroline took some pictures of the orchestra after Gwen sat down, turning off the flash because photography is discouraged.
The First Half:
Whimsy and Majesty
The performance of the National Anthem that started off the concert took Jaime by surprise. She also felt slightly uncomfortable because Caroline is from France, and Jaime wondered if she would know what was going on. After the anthem, the entire audience and the orchestra were treated to a surprise onstage marriage proposal. (She said yes.)
Jaime and her friends giggled a bit as conductor Markand Thakar went on and off the stage a few times, to applause each time. They assumed it was standard protocol for an orchestral concert, but wondered when the first piece on the program would finally start.
That piece, Osvoldo Golijov’s “Sidereus,” sounded whimsical to Jaime, like elves treading lightly through a forest. She doesn’t know a great deal about different instruments—she can tell a string instrument from a brass one, for instance, but that’s about it. Unsure about when Gwen was playing on the horn, she kept asking Caroline, a singer, “Is she playing now?”
Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” the second piece on the program, sounded majestic and dramatic. Jaime liked the percussion and the live narration by Henry Fogel, and wondered how common it is for an orchestra concert to have a narrated piece.
During intermission, the three women stayed in their seats and talked about their first impressions of the concert. Jaime and Caroline updated their Facebook statuses on their phones, writing about being at the DSSO. Jaime saw on Facebook that a friend from high school in Superior had just posted a picture of the DECC stage, and Jaime wondered where her friend was sitting. She looked around the hall a bit but couldn’t find her.
The Second Half:
Passion and Variety
The concert’s second half, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, went by quickly for Jaime. She had anticipated getting somewhat bored and tired, but she didn’t. She enjoyed watching the different instrumentalists play, and experimented with closing her eyes to focus on listening. The musicians seemed to be playing with great passion.
After the Concert
When the music and applause had concluded, Caroline asked someone in the upper lobby to take pictures of their group. Then they met up with Gwen in the lower lobby and took a few more group photos. Gwen and Caroline invited Jaime to go out to a Canal Park restaurant, but she had had a long day of festivities, so she went home to relax.
Jaime had had no idea how long the concert would be, and thought it would feel longer, at least, than it turned out to. Though the hall was over half full, she was surprised to see a few empty seats near the front, which made her wonder how ticket sales are going so far in the season. She also wondered what kinds of people usually make up the DSSO audience, and whether some core group attends regularly.
Jaime concluded her reflections on her concert experience with a simple assertion: “I will go again.”