I went to the Columbia Festival of the Arts concert at the Rouse Theater last night. The folks from Classic Albums Live were in town to present the Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety, in conjunction with the Columbia Orchestra. Of all of the British Invasion offerings, this was the one that really spoke to me.
A group of us from church made a ladies' night of it, having dinner beforehand at the Hickory Ridge Grill. Ours was a multi-generational group. I'm hazarding a guess that we had representatives from teens, thirties, fifties, and seventies. One of us had actually seen the Beatles live in concert, in Baltimore. One of us remembered staying up late to see the Beatles debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.
This particular concert drew pretty much the age group that you would expect: the people who tend to turn out for the Festival of the Arts and the people who strongly identify with Beatles music. And that would be more or less the same age group. There were a few younger folks. Some parents with school aged children. I wonder what the kids thought. Sgt. Pepper is not the most accessible of albums.
The concert was fabulous. The partnership between the rock musicians and Jason Love and the Columbia Orchestra was brilliant. It was fun to peer through the band and see a young string player bopping along to "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid." For me the most important part was getting to hear something live which never would have been performed live. Sgt. Pepper was so much a studio-crafted body of work. It was amazing to be in the same room with it, feeling the beats and the melodies vibrate through my body.
You know what would have made it better? High school students. It would have been brilliant if all unsold tickets had been made available to high school music students for free or for an extremely low cost. I know my husband has guitar and music tech students that would have loved this. But any high school aged music students could have had a blast at this concert. And their enjoyment would have brought a whole different vibe to the experience for everyone.
I am a big fan of the Columbia Festival of the Arts and I admire the way they are striving to offer a variety of arts experiences to appeal to many different kinds of people. And, for all I know, they may already have a tickets "on standby" program for high school/college students. But, if they don't, I hope they will think about it.
The concert ended with three rousing encores: I Wanna Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, and Twist and Shout. I'm pretty sure my teenaged daughter was amused and/or embarrassed by all the old folks dancing away. It was an ecstatic prayer meeting of the older generation. She endured it.
Perhaps if she'd been there with a bunch of her own friends...well, at least they could have rolled their eyes at one another. But, who knows? They might have danced.