We are just lately back from an outing to the symphony — the kids’ first time going and my first in far, far too long — where our local orchestra performed Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf as part of its children’s concert series. We had a minor snafu when it turned out that Tertia isn’t heavy enough to keep a theatre seat from folding up on her (!) but once she was safely installed on my lap instead, all was well. There’s something very fun about seeing a performance in a room full of children! And all of the wiggling and murmuring and in-seat or aisle dancing that would get you some dirty looks at an adult concert were just evidence of the audience’s very honest engagement with what was going on. It was great fun, and Anselm and Perpetua left the theatre talking about when we could go to another one.
I had half-forgotten what a difference it makes to be right there where music is being made, not listening to it through the mediating factors of digital compression and electronic speakers. The brass was so warm, the strings so lush, the cellos and the kettle drums so menacing. A recording approximates that — and don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for recording tech — but it doesn’t replace it. (I think vinyl records are supposed to be closer to the sound experience of live music? I don’t know; I haven’t heard a real vinyl record more than once or twice in my life.) Live music has a presence to it that’s easier to feel than to explain. I’d missed that without even realizing it.
Beyond that, it was just really nice to get out and experience something new in our city; although we’ve been here nearly four years, the timing was such that we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what there is to do. I conceived Tertia just a month or two after we moved, and between a difficult pregnancy and a single vehicle that my husband needed for work, it was hard to get out and do things with Anselm and Perpetua. And then Tertia was born just a week or two before the first lockdowns back in 2020 and, well, you know. Between pandemic restrictions and inertia, we just kind of lost the habit of going out. My parents visited us after Christmas for a few days and I realised that it was the first time Tertia had ever been left in the care of someone who wasn’t her parent. Which is wild! (She was fine; I was an unexpected wreck.) Anselm and Perpetua had babysitters and went to church nurseries well before their first birthdays. But when you have a baby during a global pandemic… things change, sometimes in ways you don’t notice until much later.
All of which to say: it was a great experience for all of us — for the kids to see a real orchestra, for my husband and I to remember that events and attractions, um, exist — and I think there will definitely be more concerts in our future.