The first concert I ever attended — at least so far as I can remember — would be of the Ohio State University orchestra and chorus. I would have been eight, and our family was living on a farm a good sixty miles from Columbus but we made the drive several times for their summer concerts. I suspect that they were free, which would have helped.
It was music my father could get behind. He was not a musical person whatsoever, but pops concerts were okay with him. If some Sousa marches were on the bill, all the better. Incidentally, he had attended OSU and had degrees in business and economics from the school — though he admitted he never really learned anything there and spent the better part of his time becoming a table tennis champion.
So into the Rambler we would all climb, Mom, Dad, five kids (unless my oldest sister had a date). An hour and more of driving it was, up through Lancaster and on to Columbus and the night. Do I remember the concert hall? Not the outside, nor ever entering, but the seats, the stage, those I can recall. Red cloth on the seats, I think, or maybe the mind has colored in that detail at some later date.
Do not ask me to remember a single tune that was played. Not by name. That there were marches and show tunes and light classical, we can be sure, and I remember the audience clapping along to pieces. I didn’t care so much about the music; it was the going somewhere that mattered, somewhere things were happening. It beat sitting at home, watching the one or two grainy black and white television stations we could pull in. Read? No, not much in the evenings with a house full of siblings sharing the lamp light. That, I could do during the day, and definitely did.
And drew and wrote my first story and explored the hills and caves when I could (though I was not supposed to go wandering). Other summer nights I had the concert of the whip-poor-wills, out in the hollows of the hills, the frogs down at the creek. The city remained, distant most of the time, but a place I knew existed, that I could experience. One world is not enough.
Stephen Brooke ©2017