#880 – Dick Bernard: A Magic Afternoon with Minnesota Orchestra at Northrop Auditorium

Today, May 4, is my birthday. We attended a long anticipated performance of the Minnesota Orchestra at the newly renovated Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota.
(click on photos to enlarge)
If you were actually at the concerts on Friday or Sunday, I’d be delighted to add your comments.
The Minnesota Orchestra “filing cabinet” is here.

Northrop Auditorium University of MN May 4, 2014

Northrop Auditorium University of MN May 4, 2014

The Program was identical to the program of the inaugural concert October 22, 1929. For 40 years thereafter, Northrop was home to what was then called the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. so in a real sense this was a homecoming. Here is the program, very interesting in itself: MN Orch Northrop My 4 14001 A bit more about the program, etc., here, here. Take a moment to read the wikipedia entries there.
We thought the presentation was superb; I’ve looked for evidence that this might be archived, but nothing so far. This was one of the “lock-out” concerts, sold out many months ago. Probably those of us lucky enough to attend will have to be custodians of the memory of what actually happened within the hall: the cannon sounds shaking the seats; the combined choirs of the University of Minnesota; the UofM Marching Band; the encore which brought tears to my eyes, even though I’m not a UofM alumna. Of course, the Minnesota Orchestro, maestro Vanska, and pianist William Wolfram too.
It was a memorable afternoon
The renovation of Northrop was well done; the acoustics very good. We were in the second balcony, sightlines excellent. The essence of the massive structure – its character – was retained; the many deficits of over 80 years corrected.After the final number I took this picture from my seat:
(click to enlarge)
Mn Orch, May 4, 2014, Northrop Auditorium

Mn Orch, May 4, 2014, Northrop Auditorium

There are times when an event is much, much more than the sum of its parts.
It was a nice sunny cool day in Minneapolis, perhaps about 60 degrees at show time, so we could take our time walking to the hall, and sit enjoying the sun on the plaza.
We passed a bunch of college kids playing some weird kind of team game, sort of like football, using some balls sort of like basketballs, running back and forth with what seemed like plastic pipe between their legs. At each end were what appeared to be three hoops on sticks – like goals.
What in the world…?
John, the library guy, the youngest of the four of us, said quite matter of factly: that’s Quidditch, ever seen a Harry Potter movie? Indeed, Quidditch….
So, we went from the world of imagination revered by kids of all ages – Harry Potter – to the pieces-de-resistance of classical music remembering significant pieces of the 1800s in America and Russia inside a revered Northrop Auditorium.
What an afternoon!
Quidditch, outside Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota, May 4, 2014

Quidditch, outside Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota, May 4, 2014

What a day….
from Shirley L, May 5: Hurrah!
from Dick May 5:
Tschaikovsky’s signature 1812 Overture, the highlight of the concert, is about the Russian defeat of the French in the year 1812: a victory in war. So it was ironic to see the main headline in today’s paper: “Mayhem wracks Ukraine Seaport” and, for me, to read about the “spread of the violence to Odessa”.
On Saturday I got a birthday card from our friend, Sandy, whose ancestors, Jews, came with other Germans from Odessa to North Dakota in the early 1900s settling in the long-disappeared southwest North Dakota town of Odessa (between New Leipzig and Mott). I believe her given name was Odessa.
We came to know Sandy and others when 40 of we Christians and Jews traveled together to visit sites of the Holocaust, and on my 60th birthday on May 4, 2000, I was honored, along with the youngest member of our group, Sandy’s grandson, Ben, to light a candle in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, near the ruins of the ovens at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
That time at Birkenau on a pleasant Spring day was one of the most powerful moments of my life.
In her note, Sandy “realized [on that trip that] my generation in Germany and the other countries was completely decimated.”
Her note added considerably to my listening to the 1812 Overture.
Our generation must deal with our inhumanity towards others. The practice of War is at the point where we will destroy our future.
from David T, May 5: It’s great that the University and the state decided to rehab Northrup. Back in the late sixties, when I was a U of M student I worked part time as a school bus driver. Getting charter gigs was always great in that it brought in extra cash and often took me to interesting venues. One of the easiest trips to get was “concert patrons.” We’d pick up Minneapolis Symphony (as it was then called) concert goers (or “oldies” as the college-age drivers referred to them) at various restaurants and clubs around the metro and drive them over to Northrup. They had a spot to park the buses and the drivers (still on the clock) were free to do whatever. Usually, once the concert started I could slink into the hall and find an empty seat in the upper reaches of Northrup. Getting paid to listen to a great orchestra was pretty cool. I really thought Northrup was a terrific place. In fact, it’s where I established my claim to have slept with thousands of women as a college student. Psych. 1 was held in Northrup, on TV, at 8:00 am. Many times after a bit too much partying, er, studying, I’d doze off during one of the lectures surrounded by thousands of coeds. Hence, my claim was established.
from Michelle W, May 5: Hi Dick! Happy Belated Birthday! I was waving away at you at the concert, but you didn’t see me 🙂 I was on the same mezzanine level with you, with my mom, but house left.
Indeed, the concert was superb! I graduated in Northrup in 1987, and our commencement speaker was US Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder – remember her?? I also saw the B-52s there, back in the day 🙂
I also sang in the UM Symphonic Chorus during college, and my daughter Libby plays in the UM Marching Band. So…many emotions and memories. I could hardly breathe during the 1812 Overture – the wall of sound was unbelievable and completely intense. Reminded me of how I often felt when singing with the MN Orchestra back in college – immersed in wonderful music!
Add to the music a spectacular sunny day and wow – it was a winner!
I thought the Northrup remodel was very well done. Glad they kept the original entry foyer and love all the new lounges for sitting about before and at intermission. Excellent idea. The only misstep in the redesign, I would have to admit, are the mezzanine sight lines. We were first balcony, house left, and really the entire lefts and rights in the balconies have obstructed views, which is too bad for a concert like last night. So I would advise people to sit orchestra or mezzanine center for full stage views. Wonderful afternoon – birthday hugs Dick! (you can post this wherever!)
from Madeline S: a pre-concert op ed she saw in the Mpls Star Tribune.

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