A musical presentation by children worth seeing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2000

Last Sunday’s Austin Symphony Orchestra concert was magnificent.

Thursday, December 14, 2000

Last Sunday’s Austin Symphony Orchestra concert was magnificent.

Email newsletter signup

It was a quantum experience with a crescendo of excitement and measures and countermeasures that involved new heights (If by now you haven’t recognized that I don’t know a thing about classical music, this is your only warning to stop reading immediately) that left a large audience thrilled.

And, the kids were cute, too.

Sure, we have a skillful Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Sure Stephen Ramsey, conductor/music director, is gifted.

Sure, the Austin Symphony Chorus, or as one member called them the "sophisticated version of the Northwestern Singers," does an admirable job.

But this concert-goer went to see the Austin Symphony Children’s Chorus.

The rehearsals started … oh … several years ago. I can’t remember because they started so long ago.

Each Monday night, I chauffeured my granddaughter to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin after she earned a spot in the chorus of other precocious fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade children.

She was always waiting to be picked up and God forbid if I was late.

"You’re late," she snarled at me one Monday night, "I’m going to be in trouble. Mrs. Larson doesn’t like us to be late."

"She said we might not be able to sing if we’re late or miss a practice and if that happens it’s all your fault!!!!!" she lectured me speaking in the dreaded exclamation marks.

"The light is red and there’s an old man pushing a grocery cart across the street in front of us. It looks like a retired Austin policeman. We’re only two blocks away and I think we can make it in time," I tried to soothe her.

"You better!!!!!!!!" she warned me only hinting at the punishment that awaited me if I failed.

One night I made the mistake of showing up at a practice with a camera. I was there to talk to composer Dan Kallman, who looks like your ordinary middle-age man with a bald head and a beard, carrying a book bag and wearing granny glasses. The kids loved him as he assisted Sonia Larson put the kids through their vocal paces.

The historic first-ever children’s choir of the Austin Symphony Orchestra was composed largely of girls with only a few boys who were there to meet girls. An awful lot of moms hovered nearby looking tense.

None of the boys asked me to take their picture. Every one of the girls did.

Go figure. Some things never change.

As the months of rehearsals came to an end, it was time for my granddaughter to prepare for the concert.

"I’ll need my hair done, a new outfit, new shoes and some other things," she announced.

I should have recognized trouble, when she chose not to speak in exclamation marks.

"Exactly what other things will you need?" I asked as any self-respecting cheapskate of a grandparent would.

"See!!!!" she said reverting to the dreaded exclamation marks. "You don’t trust me. You don’t want me to sing with the choir. I hate you!!!!"

"Relax, relax. You’re not playing the electric zither are you?" I said trying to impress her with my knowledge of music instruments.. "Just have fun."

We drove home in silence that night.

When concert Sunday arrived, I was eager to go to the concert, hear some wonderful holiday music and see the children exercise bladder control and improve their posture.

Those were the instructions: arrive early, go to the bathroom, use tall, dignified posture, no slouching.

"Mrs. Larson says we can’t go to the bathroom. We have to do that before the concert and she means it!!!!" my nervous granddaughter advised.

"Gee. It’s only two hours long. I think you can do that," I told her.

Well, I can reliably report none of the children left the stage during the concert and exercised perfect posture with only a minimum of slouching when the adult chorus seemed to go on a bit too long and, most importantly, sounded great.

So did the symphony and the adult chorus and you don’t have to be a music critic to have noticed that.

Including the Synch

Want to brighten your holidays? Need to be entertained at the annual office party? Do you lead a particularly dull life and have nothing better to do? Try "Out of Synch," the newest singing group in Austin.

There is some confusion over the group’s name, but if you see five otherwise normal women wearing antlers, they’re the ones. Call Gretchen for more information at 437-6217.