At my mother’s residence (and nursing home) several weeks ago, she and I attended a concert in the Main Dining Room, where there is a baby grand piano. A collection of string quartets (and one trio) were performed by students from St. Mary’s University String Festival – a 10-day music camp for middle and high school musicians. 

The campers attended concerts of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, whose dates coincided with the camp dates, and a concert performed by the St. Mary’s faculty – aka the Lark Quartet. The students also gave two concerts, one as community outreach that acted as their dress rehearsal, which is what Mom and I saw.

I wasn’t sure if Mom would last the entire concert, and in order to position us with an “escape path”, we sat to the far left, but ended up quite close to the First Violin. Now that I think of it, I doubt if she had ever sat so close to a performer before. The first few offerings by the young musicians went well enough. Just when I thought she might be falling asleep, she sat up a little straighter and looked at me out of the corner of her eye – she was REALLY enjoying this, and was enthralled with watching whomever was in the first chair position. Not only did she last the entire hour-long concert, she talked to the students as they came around to greet us afterward, and said over and over how she had never seen anything like it before. She was charmed, and so were they.

I remember at the end of my first summer in San Francisco, I got to see the traveling Broadway show Hair, twice in one week. The first time was with tickets acquired in the usual way, and we were in the second balcony so got to see, essentially, an overview. Two days later my roommate and I were offered tickets by her friend who could not attend – these were in the Third Row Center… I will never forget this experience as long as I live.

When have you seen a performance “up close and personal”?

Which do you generally prefer – an overview, or a close-up experience?

42 thoughts on “OH, sIT cLOSE!”

  1. A couple of years ago I treated my BFF to a night at the Park Square Theater. I believe it was Hamlet. About 2 minutes before the performance the stage manager came out or maybe the office manager and made an announcement that pretty much everybody had arrived and since there were so many open seats that night, it was a weeknight, she invited everyone to move up and over. We’ve had okay seats, along the side and toward the back so we got up quick and moved, ended up in the fourth row center. Great seats. And a great performance.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. It was entirely positive. They came on time. The “Go Card” payment system worked. After the medical visit, they picked me up on time and got me safely home.

          I had apprehensions about this, but I was calmed by my faith in Minnesota government. And Metro Mobility delivered. I won’t fret about another trip.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Glad to hear it. It’s a great service, one of my friends here on the West Side has used it for years, and loves it.


  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I saw a Hamlet production at the Guthrie years ago in which we sat in the first row (at the old Guthrie). It was so close we saw every drop of sweat and every spit droplet come from the actors’ mouths. It was actually too close, making it hard to see the entire scene on the stage.

    Thanks for the good wishes and kindness yesterday. I am doing fine, but as is to be expected, the pain is, well, painful. It will be awhile before I speed walk anywhere.

    Now for yesterday’s question: What woke me up? Yesterday my alarm was set at 4:30am. We were due at Methodist at 5:20am and pulled in right on time. Then the nurses woke me up, and they have continued to wake me up since I arrived here.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. For orchestra and opera, I like to be at an “overview” position – I want to see the whole stage or ensemble. I want to see conductor and performers. I have sat close for both and felt like I was mostly seeing knees (and craning my neck).

    A very memorable “up close” experience that also was a musical and when I was much younger (like BiR) was seeing “Cats” in London. It was before it jumped across the pond to Broadway and had some of the music changed (as well as the staging). I was there with a theater group and somehow our director (and group leader) and finagled seats in the fourth or fifth row. In that staging, the front ten or so rows were on a revolving part of the house – the stage was “in the round” – so as the opening overture played, the stage and the seats we were in spun like a slow moving merry-go-round. There were lighting effects that went with this and cast members popping up in different parts of the audience as they made their way to the stage. That was a show to see up close. That also may have been my first inkling that I wanted to make sets like that and not act…I just didn’t realize it at the time. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. We attended a choral evensong service at King’s College in Cambridge. It was some festival, I think Pentecost or something like that, and ithe chapel was packed. We were seated in the actual choir stalls next to the baritones. It was amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. i went to see the vienna boys choir sing at their home service sunday morning
      we got there a little late because i didn’t know where to stash my suitcases while we went (found lockers)
      the room seats about 200 and after communion 1/2 the church emptied out. socwe stood in the outer alcove for 45 minutes then got to go in and catch them singing for the last 20 minutes
      little people, little group lots of 10 year old singers and a total of about 15-20 boys but they hit every one of those notes. it was a cool way to start our trip
      we went from florence to venice and attended the zoo there and then got into a sleeper car to go to vienna arriving in the morning. we asked where the vienna boys choir sang and got directed there zip zap and offer went got out in time for a beautiful lunch and an sfternoon of people watching before we headed off to maybe budapest


  5. We also had really good seats at the Stratford Festival in Ontario when we saw The Tempest. We were in about the 4th or 5th row and could see everything. My seat had a little plaque on it indicating it had been funded by Liza Minelli.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. john denver was at the orpheus in minneapolis and i took my young daughter
    we were arranging the pillow things on her chair to boost her up so she could see and a guy came up and told us john wanted to move us up to the second row center
    it was magic and we really enjoyed it
    we had tickets for his next concert and we’re so sad when his plane accident killed him a week before the concert

    i have a ticket with my mom and sister at the guthrie front rower venter and love love love the closeness

    i have been super close for many concerts and plays and prefer it to the back row of the main floor most times offered

    dylan simon and garfunkel yo yo ma all from 20 feet away
    lots from row 10
    too many from the nosebleeds
    i prefer close

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Arthritis and deafness have dulled my appreciation for live performance. Back when I was more functional, I went to the Scholar Coffeehouse on a stormy night because my favorite act, Leo Kottke, would perform. A lightning strike knocked out an electric substation, blacking out power in a large area. The Scholar lost its lights and sound system. Mike Justin, manager for the Scholar, urged the small audience to skooch close to the raised stage. Leo sat on the apron of the stage next to a huge hissing railroad lantern and belted out his wonderful music while lightning continued to crash and flash outside. All concerts at the Scholar were intimate and personal. That stormy night was the best of the best.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Your question is harder to answer than you would expect. The first Scholar was in Dinkytown, near the big University of Minnesota campus (east bank). That was where Bob Dylan first performed (but before he changed his name). Mike Justen bought it for a dollar, moving the coffeehouse to the West Bank in 1965. The address was 247 Cedar, just north of the freeway and just south of Theater in the Round. I discovered the place in September of 1965. Acts performing there included Maury Bernstein, Lazy Bill Lucas, Koerner Ray & Glover, Lou and Peter Berryman, John Kohlstad, the Sorry Muthas and others.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I hadn’t seen that before, PJ. Thanks for the link. It’s funny to see this. That’s my photo at the bottom of the page! Most of the article is about the Dinkytown site. I think the 7 Corners site lived between 1965 and 1969.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think it’s funny that Dylan would go there regularly (while it was at the Dinkytown location), and play, and they’d have to ask him to leave because his monotone singing was causing customers to leave.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Interesting. I was in grad – school and living in that neighborhood. There was no sign of The Scholar” from 79-81 so it must have been long gone by then. At the time I was there, the entertainment in the neighborhood was to be found at the Cedar Cultural Center. I saw many LGMS favorites there: Sally Rodgers, Claudia Smith, Leo Kottke, and on and on.

          Steve, great picture. What a fun thing for you to see.

          It sounds like I will be released from hospital later today. Yippee.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. Glad you’re being sent home, Jacque, I’m sure you’ll be much more comfortable there.

          About your Cedar Cultural Center recollection, the years are off. It didn’t become the Cedar Cultural Center until 1989. Prior to that it was a movie theater.


        4. Dylan’s Dinkytown days are a part of his past that I doubt he remembers with pride. I’ve read that he would crash in apartments of friends, and when he moved on they might find their record collections missing a few choice items. One of the astonishing things about Dylan is his ability to reinvent himself. He left Minnesota for New York and apparently worked hard on his guitar and his songs. Minnesota friends barely recognized him when he came back. Dylan was desperate to be someone other than he was in his early years, and he brought it off. I wonder if there is any figure in American popular music who produced anywhere near the amount of great music he created.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, before the Cedar Theater became the Cultural Center, we heard music at the Café Extempore – often shortened to The Extemp (in the next block and across the street, upstairs – Riverside Café next door, I think). I heard Bill Stains there, et al.


  8. Just read an article in TNYT about an alarming drop in the number of birds in the US and Canada. Ironically, blackbirds were mentioned as having suffered an especially high loss. Here’s a quote from the article: Among the worst-hit groups were warblers, with a population that dropped by 617 million. There are 440 million fewer blackbirds than there once were.”


  9. Hi kids-

    We’re in Duluth for the weekend.

    I think I like the overview better.
    Colin Hay will be at the Pantages Theater in March. Got tickets in the balcony. Almost had tickets from row center but missed them.

    It sort of depends on how the stage is set up. If the stage is too high, then in the front you feel
    Like you’re looking up their nose. But a shallow enough stage and seeing the actors spit, that’s ok.
    We sat down front at Prairie Home Companion once; Tom keith almost spit on us. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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