Monday, April 14, 2008
Vision-Sunday Afternoon Band Concert
7" x 10.5"
It seems like a perfect thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. Go to a band concert in a lovely place. A park is great, as is an auditorium.
My young grandson escorted me to a concert by my favorite band at Rudder auditorium in Rudder Tower on the Texas A&M University campus last month. (Which is also one of my favorite places to go.) Both the symphonic and concert bands were going to present programs during the afternoon.
Having played flute in the Calvert High School band for a few years, I have an appreciation for good band music. The former director of the A&M band, Joe Tom Haney, was also our band director in high school. So we had some excellent training.
As I dressed to go over to campus, I was watching the news on tv and knew that Shep Smith from Fox News was broadcasting from the Flag Room in the MSC, next door to Rudder Tower. I really wanted to go watch him, too, and, hopefully, meet him.
We also heard on tv that Bill Clinton was flying in to make a speech at Reed Arena about the same time as the concert. A busy day here.
As we drove past the airport on our way to campus, Clinton's plane flew over us as it landed. We knew because of all the police cars, waiting and circling around the area.
My daughter let us off by the MSC and we went into the Flag Room to see Shep Smith. I could hear him, and I could make out some people at a table across the room. But I couldn't really see much because of the bright tv lights! I checked out the art gallery door in the Flag Room to see if they were open on Sunday. They were. I thought we could return after the concert and look around there, if Shep was already through broadcasting.
We entered the lobby of Rudder and I almost had a panic attack! I couldn't see much. Dark carpets and low lighting in places. Thank goodnes my grandson was with me and that he is able to read almost anything! There was a sign placed on a stand in the middle of the floor, showing which auditorium the band concert would be in. I couldn't see it until I was just a few feet away. It was printed on maroon cardboard with black letters!
Then there were two flights of stairs to walk up. Carpet was maroon or dark blue in the building. No lights on the actual steps, but the landings were lighted. I was leaning over trying to find each step, and, at the same time, having pain in my knees from my worn out joints! People around me were walking easily while I was complaining, "Why don't they have elevators in this nice building!"
I couldn't help but wonder why, with a big architecture department at the University, this very public building was not made more handicapped friendly. I'm not that bad off, but I'm sure that others who do have more serious handicaps, and didn't have a young person to help them, would not be able to function in the building is, as lovely as it is.
(I have since learned that, there is a number to call to let them know that you are coming, if you have special needs, and they will have someone to assist you or show you where to go to avoid all those stairs.)
And, then there was the restroom situation. We were on the second level, but all the restrooms are on the first floor. That meant that, at intermission, I had to climb the stairs again. And then, I couldn't read the signs to know which was the ladies room. Signs were placed high on the wall, too far for me to read with my poor vision. My grandson escorted me to the area, but he was a little embarassed about going to the area of the ladies room. A man was there, waiting for his daughter to come out, and he showed me which door was the ladies room. I felt really stupid that I couldn't even find the restroom, and I was in a hurry, too!
We entered the auditorium and took the first seats near the door. To go closer to the stage meant climbing down more steep stairs. I noticed a woman on the floor near the stage, in one of those little electric carts. I decided that there must be another entrance somewhere that would allow people to sit close to the stage and not have to climb all those stairs.
My escort was a little gentleman and sat through the concert. A few times, I asked him to read the program to me, and he did. (Some of that was just to discuss the instruments and the music.)
The music was excellent and that should have been enjoyable. But all I could think of is that, one of these days, I may not be able to see the band at all. It was hard to sit there and struggle to make out instruments or what the musicians were doing.
Oddly, I could see the director and his platform fairly well. I could make out the percussion section with men in bright red or orange shirts. I could see one on the left who may have been playing a xylaphone or a kettle drum, just from the way he bent over and moved his arms. Another played rhythm instruments and chimes. Another either played a kettle drum or some kind of drums. He seemed to be using his hand flat.
Other than that, all I could see was a golden halo in the back of the orchestra for the baritones or bass horns, that same golden halo on the left for the trumpets (I think!), and the same halo for the trombones and possibly some other horns on the right.
I could see some knees in front of the trumpets. One set of knees seemed to be covered by a blue and green floral patterned skirt. Next to the skirt, there seemed to be jeans and next to the jeans, there appeared to be another blue and green skirt. But what instruments they played, I have no idea.
A hand with a part of a flute was near the director, toward the center on the right. A yellowish pattern was next to the director, in the first row, on the right. I couldn't tell if this was an instrument case, or some kind of air cast a person might be wearing.
On the left, I could only see a foot wearing a sandal.
There was a light area around the director, I suppose from a spotlight. But that blended into the purple spot that I see , and darkness. Only the few things I have mentioned poked through that darkness. At least that is the way that it looked, through my eyes.
"Will I be able to just sit and relax and enjoy listening, in the future, if it comes to that? Can I enjoy anything without being able to see it correctly?" I couldn't help but wonder as the director put his energies into conducting and the young people in the band worked to give us their best efforts. "Why can't I just sit back, relax, and enjoy being here and listening!"
I thought of the park and the old band stand there and how it should have been used more over the years. It was so wonderful when the Houston Symphony played there one spring. And the big highlight, for me, was when the band from Ft. Hood came during the Sesquicentennial. What a thrill that was . It was even nice when our Trojan band would play in the bandstand.
And I dreaded having to go back down those stairs to the lobby! I felt sort of lost and that I should be showing my grandson things instead of the other way around. I could recognize things and knew generally where to go, but I feel so foolish when I can't find or read signs, or recognize which way I should go.
The concert ended and I walked sideways down the stairs. My grandson and I walked across the fountain area, through a little dust devil, back to the MSC and the Flag Room. TV lights were still on and people were sitting around in the "living room", as they often do. We sat for a few minutes, too, but the tv personalities seemed to be gone. I thought they must have rushed over to Reed Arena to do a story on Clinton being there. Or maybe it was a supper break.
We went through the art exhibit in the gallery and looked at work by, and from the collection of, actor Anthony Quinn.
I've written about that in a previous post, so I won't go over that again.
I'm sure that, now, I have lost my center vision due to wet Macular Degeneration. (The cataracts in both eyes don't help, either.)
But it was a bit odd that I could see the band director so well, and he was in the center of my vision. I guess that it has something to do with the lighting in the auditorium. When the normal lights were on, I could see the band members entering and getting ready to play. And I could see their instruments.
If you would like to read more about my experiences with Macular Degeneration, look for the older posts that are prefaced with the word "Vision". Also, I have listed some of the sites that I have found that deal with AMD in my sidebar under "Eye Sites".
I painted "Sunday Afternoon Band Concert" from a sketch I did after we got home from our visit to A&M. I used Winsor Newton watercolors on 140# Arches watercolor paper.
Please let me know if you see something that you are interested in. Most of the art work on my blog is for sale.
If you are stork watching, or would like to, the nest in Przygodzic now has 4 eggs! Mama stork seems to be sitting on the nest every time I look, but they give the egg count at the bottom of the camera shot. There are now 4 little animated eggs there, so we know that the nest has 4 eggs in it.
You can check out the links under Stork Sites on my sidebar on the right.
If you click on Stork Cams, you can see a list of various places that have web cams or information on the storks.
19th Worldwide Sketch Crawl Announced
Get Ready! Make your plans! Sharpen a pencil. Pull out your sketchbook (or buy a new one!). Dust off your watercolors, markers, crayons, pens, or whatever you like to draw with.
The date for the 19th Worldwide Sketch Crawl has been announced for Saturday June 21. I will be adding more about that on my blog, but I just wanted everyone to be able to plan for this.
You can check out the website at http://www.sketchcrawl.com/ or look on my sidebar under Art Helpers and click on that link.
I hope that we can get a lot more participation from this area this time.
You can read more about the last one in previous posts on my blog. You can also see some of the work that we created that day.
If you are interested, you can register on the Sketch Crawl website, or, if you are in this area, you can register, then post a reply under either Bryan, Texas or College Station, Texas and let us know that you are interested. (You don't have to, but it would be nice to know who all is sketching, and might be fun to get this together as a group.)
You can even post your own reply to get a group together for your area.
Remember that this is open to everyone-all ages, all levels. Beginners, professionals, students, teachers, professionals, families, groups, or individuals. People can work together or solo. The idea is just to draw that day, with people all over the world, working at one time.
I'm excited about it and looking forward to another day of drawing.
More on this later. I just wanted to pass on the announcement of the date.