A Night Without Beethoven

beethoven 0320

Today was supposed to be Beethoven Day. Not his birthday or the anniversary of anything significant he did or any sort of international recognition at all, just the day the Colorado Symphony came to Crested Butte to present an evening of Beethoven for an extremely affordable price, starting at $15.

As far as I know, the concert is still a go tonight, despite what I think yesterday was a count of three confirmed cases of covid-19 in the county (if I read the public health missive correctly, the first diagnosed case was a visitor to the area who subsequently departed, and then a 40-ish woman, followed by a 50-ish woman, both of whom live here at least some of the time). But I won’t be in attendance, and I’m a bit sad about this.

Attendance was always an “if” for me, even though I was prepared to buy a ticket the first time I saw an ad in the Crested Butte paper perhaps a month ago. The concert is set to start tonight at 7:30 in the brand spankin’ new Center for the Arts, a building that must be 50 times larger than the old Center for the Arts, only with less space for fewer user groups. (I haven’t been in it; I only know what I read in the paper, and perhaps differences have been resolved, but several groups who were making use of space in the old facility were told there would be no room for them in this multi-million-dollar sprawl.)

Anything that starts at 7:30 at night, including my tap classes, has to be eyed by me with a touch of — not suspicion, but the part where I suspect I won’t stay awake for the event. It’s harder to fall asleep while tapping, and the class ends at 8:30, but an event where I’m sitting, listening, for probably at least two hours? That’s going to be a challenge.

Plus, this concert is in Crested Butte, which means sitting to get there and sitting to get home. So driving myself was not really going to be an option. I do have stops for the free bus practically outside my door, but that was going to mean leaving earlier, and with no way of knowing the duration of the concert, it was unclear what time I would make it home.

Then I was going to go with friends, until we realized this spiffy new center is without auditorium seating, and the folding chairs currently in use are too hard to sit in for someone in need of a hip replacement. (That would not be me. Yet.)

This center, which I think was supposed to come in just over $10 million but already has cost substantially more than that, does not have chairs. I didn’t follow the entire thing, but I gather the editor of the CB News is unimpressed that the only place in the entire world that the center could source chairs was in Belgium. Seriously? And we wonder how we got to such cost overruns.

Anyway, the Belgians were already behind, and so delivery was delayed. I’m not sure what the Belgian response is to covid-19, and a garbled presidential address last night leaves me unclear on whether goods can still enter the country from Europe (I believe the White House overrode the president — however that works — and said yes, commerce will continue). But I wouldn’t be looking for cushy chairs in the arts center any time soon.

With reasonably good hips, I could probably manage a folding chair for a couple of hours, and I considered checking with other friends who might think this sounded like an entertaining evening, but the days went along and I didn’t ask around. And then I went back to the center’s website and learned that the “Colorado Symphony” really means “seven members of the symphony.”

Not that the music won’t still be wonderful, and I don’t mean to belittle it in any fashion. The symphony used to have an active outreach program to get to the hinterlands beyond Denver, and once brought a pared-down (but many more than seven) orchestra to Taylor Auditorium at Western Then State Then College.

Maybe the Symphony doesn’t come this way much because Crested Butte has a full-blown music festival with its own orchestra. Or budget cuts could have curtailed travel. At any rate, I don’t see many advertisements for them outside their home hall in downtown Denver. So I should be grateful for any number of them, but seven seems disappointingly small, especially when the playbill says “Symphony.”

The program being presented tonight features the Septet (so, seven) in E Flat Major. The Center for the Arts’ website, which today is listed as a known danger in Firefox but comes right up in Microsoft, says this piece is “revered,” but I was unfamiliar with it. I located it on Youtube the other day, and that is where my decision not to attend was completely made.

It’s a nice piece, and I’m sure would be very cool to hear performed live. But it’s also Beethoven at his mellowest, a very soothing and gentle 40 minutes completely designed to lull the susceptible to sleep.

The performance also features a trio (so, now down to three), plus a “surprise” piece “chosen by the musicians for the audience.” If I were there, they would by then be wishing they’d brought their cymbal player along.

I reluctantly shelved my plans to take in a rare local instance of Beethoven performed live, and now it turns out that this was a good call. Because even if the performance is going bravely on in the face of viruses, I am not.

Lynn, who is sure what she has is a cold picked up from a co-worker, may have shared with me. I have no stuffiness below my cheekbones, but I am feeling very run down and in an abundance of caution in today’s cautious times, opted to stay home this morning, where a nap is sounding like a darn good idea about now.

It could be roofitis, left over from last week’s stress of dealing with leaks; it could be the sinus issues that plague me every year in March, particularly when weather pressure is weird as it has been this week; it could be a cold. James is out for his second day of illness, with symptoms that seem a lot more dire than mine (he called the new hotline set up by the county and they think it sounds like flu) . . . it just seems better to be prudent.

For a myriad of reasons, then, none of which make me happy, I will be passing up a rare chance at Beethoven in a semi-symphonic setting. Perhaps I will listen on Youtube, which really isn’t the same thing at all, to the trio I’ll be missing out on, and then drift off to sleep to the somnolent strains of the septet. Making it a Faux Beethoven Day in lieu of the real thing.

Here’s an excerpt: the Septet at its most rambunctious.

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