It’s my fault. I should have looked. It was Friday evening, unusually great weather, and what do the cognoscenti of St. Mary’s County do on a lovely Friday evening in July? They go to the River Concert! So without any further research I agreed to meet some friends at “our usual place” on the lawn and enjoy the concert. I got there fairly early, finagled my way into “preferred parking”, eschewed the offered program and schlepped the chair and bag o’wine and staked out our little regular little compound. Increased attendance requires an earlier and earlier arrival if you want to sit in the same area (which most do from week to week). So we settled in, sipped some wine and greeted friends, waving to those you can’t get to. Eventually Maestro Silberschlag announced the start of the show, and introduced Larry Vote, the “guest conductor” for the evening. Juggling wine and slicing cheese and sausage, arranging crackers sort of got in the way of actually listening to any patter about the evening’s performance, and finally the music started. Beethoven? Vivaldi? Nope some sort of a frothy “waltz tune”. Hey! Gimme that program! And there, in bold print at the top of the page, for all to see was “An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein”. Too late and too many folks to run for the exit. One of the criticisms of the River Concerts has always been that the music is “too modern” or “too heavy”, and that does carry some weight as not everybody likes Copeland and Mahler. So maybe this was the Concert for the Masses. What followed was at least 24 selections from R&H musicals, like Carousel, Sound of Music, State Fair, South Pacific, The King and I.. Just as in cuisine, not everybody has to like everything, and although I know there are devotees of musicals, I must admit I am not one of them. It was pretty painful for me to sit through the entire performance.
And, as in food and restaurants, harmony and sense of place is important in music. There was just something incongruous about a baritone, a tenor, a soprano, and mezzo soprano in tuxes and evening dresses backed up by a full formal orchestra strutting about the stage singing about his boy Bill, opining: “he'll think I can lick Ev'ry other feller's father” or that: “You c'n keep your rig if you're thinkin' 'at I'd keer to swap Fer that shiny, little surrey with the fringe on the top!”. “The Hills are Alive…” is okay for Julie Andrews, but maybe not appropriate for classically trained vocalists. To borrow the vernacular, “it jest ain’t rite". Thank god I didn’t have to hear “I’m jest a gurl who kain’t say no”. I’m sure it was no accident that the finale was “OOOOOOOK-La-hoMA where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain” with all four of the soloists locked hand in hand. At the end, they did a reprise with a standing audience of Marylanders singing homage to a state which most have probably never visited. (Wonder if outdoor concerts in Tulsa end with a standing crowd singing Maryland, My Maryland). Obviously I was in a minority, but I’m going to have to read that program a little more carefully.
Leaving music out of the equation, it does remain a great social evening, you always see some regular friends, make some new ones, and occasionally overhear some interesting conversations. The “food court” provides a pretty broad array of choices, although leaning pretty heavily toward the heavier end of the spectrum with lots of barbeque, sliced sandwiches, kebabs (veggie option here), along with dessert options. The “hot dog guy” we know from “First Fridays” over in Leonard town. A quick diversion here, he sets up shop in the Exploration/Wyle complex in Lexington Park on Thursdays, and I had a very nice “loaded half smoke” last Thursday, and it was a very nice dog. He features “Nathan’s” products so that’s a pretty good pedigree. At three or three fifty, it’s a pretty good bargain also. Anyway, there are only three more River Concerts, so if you haven’t been to one, you should try it. And, I’ll do for you what I should have done for myself, next week’s program is “The Young and the Gifted”, featuring principal players of the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra, with Katherine Heilman (oboe) and Zachary Silberschlag on trumpet.
And lastly (whew!) a quick food comment. I was up in Waldorf yesterday obtaining same for the birds, and after dropping a neat C note on them (four bags), I stopped in at the nearby Einstein bagelry and picked up a couple “everythings”. As I consumed it this morning with cream cheese (NOT the “light” variety mind you), I have to say I would give them the nod over the Panera offering. A more biting coating of onion, garlic toasted stuff on the exterior and a more pleasing interior with just the right amount of “chewiness”. Panera’s lean toward more like “bread in the form of a bagel”.
Okay, enough, have a good weekend (depending when you read this) and, as always,