Joshua Bell from a Distance

January 29, 2012 at 7:21 PM | Posted in Connections, Music, Violin | 4 Comments
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view from my seat

This afternoon I saw the great violinist Joshua Bell in recital with Sam Haywood on piano at Symphony Hall in Chicago. I decided just yesterday to go and could only get tickets in the Gallery, the highest level. I started going to Classical concerts after I was no longer broke and so I generally get good seats — not the very best, but very good. I was looking forward to the experience.

I took the elevator to the 6th floor and walked up a short staircase. As I first looked down upon seeing the stage in the distance,  I grabbed for the nearest rail. I was so much higher than I imagined. I was not let down but had the euphoria of the New. The lady next to me suggested seat belts.

Only at points throughout the concert was I hyper-aware of being so high, but I never lost some awareness. Several times I did a mental sound check and due to the miracle of acoustics or my positive mood, the sound was perfect. While I couldn’t make out the detail of their faces, I had no problem hearing, from the hush of a quiet note to the light pluck of a string.

There are delightful economic possibilities sitting so high up but most important to me is that I am now connected with the Gallerians; I am now one of them.


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  1. I had a season subscription to Lyric Opera this year. My seats were in the upper balcony – sixth stop on the elevator. I seek out one elevator operator in particular who greets us in whatever language is being sung that evening and announces each floor going up. He always makes me smile as we reach the sixth floor because he announces it as “paradiso or the gates of Heaven”, and tells us this floor receives the best sound in the theater. I have never been disappointed, and for my birthday this year, a girlfriend bought me a pair of opera glasses which added to the second most important dimension of the experience.

    • Rosemary,

      First of all, great story! I did not know you were interested in opera. What have you seen? Favorites?

      At the Bell concert the lady next to me gave me her opera glasses to try and they did make a nice difference. Now we have a new topic to talk about.
      Thanks for writing!

      • Tales of Hoffmann, Lucia di Lammermoor, Boris Godunov, Ariadne Auf Naxos, The Magic Flute and Aida…My favorite was Lucia, with Aida being a close second…I’d love to try to hold up my end of the conversation with one as versed in the opera as you, however, no guarantees!

      • Yes, I love Lucia; it is one of my favorites and we saw it at Lyric long ago. I haven’t seen Boris but would like to.

        I have many of these on CD and should you want to borrow … I’d be delighted to have you hear these and others. Look forward to blabbing opera!

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