I know, I know, it's a losing game to lament the small attendance and classical concerts, but I'm going to do it anyway. Last night I attended an unexpectedly wonderful concert: I say unexpectedly because it was a fundraiser, held in a church hall in Abington, Pa., with a volunteer pickup orchestra and two local pianists. The program consisted of a short Schubert overture and two, count 'em, of Beethoven's piano concertos -- the Third and the Fifth. Claire Belkovsky, the soloist in the the Third was fine, but Marja Kaisla, the soloist in the Fifth, was astonishing, and while the orchestra was small and had only one short rehearsal, it played beautifully and crisply, especially in the Emperor, and the sound was more than big enough to fill the modest performance space. (Winds and brass were up on the stage, strings and soloists down on the floor.) It was a night to remember, a night to write home about, if you were away from home, a night to blog about, but the attendance was only about 75, and I recognized most of the people there. They were the same ones who always come to these fundraisers, which are held to benefit the Sheldon Harris Ginsberg Memorial Scholarship Fund at Philadelphia's Settlement Music School.
I understand it was a Sunday night, and the Eagles were playing the Redskins, but I'm going to be up from this concert for the next couple of days. I just wish other music lovers in the area could understand what they missed. My thanks and congratulations to Claire, Marja, conductor Blair Bollinger, all the folks in the orchestra, and as always, to Renee Goldman (that's pronounced REE-nee), friend and former piano teacher, who organizes these things every year, in the face of public indifference, to keep her brother's memory alive.
So the next time I write an article telling you you to come to a concert, for heaven's sake, come. I feel sorry for everyone in the world who wasn't there. And I especially feel sorry for the people in Abington who could have walked over.