In a Halcyon Daze - US Tour, March 13, 2013

Mar 13, 2013

In a Halcyon Daze - US Tour, March 13, 2013

Allen Whear, violoncello

Halcyon days. plural noun, a period of peace and happiness; an idyllic time; also, a period of calm weather during the winter solstice.

The House of Dreams program includes a segment about the tragedy of Alcyone as related in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  At the conclusion it is explained that this is the origin of the term “halcyon days” in honor of Alcyone: the period of calm seas when the mythical couple, having been transformed into seabirds, can raise their young. Performing and having our official day off in La Jolla under gorgeous clear skies and a Mediterranean temperature feels like Tafelmusik’s halcyon days.

The La Jolla Chamber Music Society-sponsored concert was at the local Museum of Art, with warm acoustics and friendly audience. Imagine stepping just outside of the stage door to palm trees, star-laden skies and the nearby crash of ocean waves. Nearby, hundreds of seals confidently napped on the beach. Under such idyllic conditions it would be petty to begrudge losing an hour to daylight savings time. Sunday was a free day, and judging by the sun-reddened faces the following morning, most people took advantage of the perfect weather to explore the beach, farmer’s market, and other outdoor temptations.

San Diego Museum of Art

This tour has been marked by a number of family reunions. Not only do many relatives of the orchestra live in California, it is obviously not an unpleasant prospect for family to travel here at this time of year. Here’s a catalogue of Tafelmusik’s familial connections on this tour:
Cristina’s aunt from Edmonton; Lucas’ parents from Phoenix and brother and family from Seattle area; Jeanne’s brother and sister-and-law from Albuquerque; Tricia’s mother from Sarasota, FL and two brothers from San Jose and Ramona, CA; Dominic’s parents from Brookings, CA; Julie’s dad from Victoria; Alison’s cousin from Victoria and sister-in-law from Vancouver. 
This morning we revisited an old friend, Alison’s The Quest for Arundo Donax, the musical adventure about Henry Purcell’s children and their secret mission to smuggle the treasured reed cane into England from bellicose France. Blair Williams reprised his role, but I must report on the amazing multiplicity of roles that he plays. Not only does he narrate the story, he gives virtuosic voice to a large cast of characters: Frances and Edward Purcell, the spunky daughter and Papageno-esque son of the composer, Britain’s Queen Anne (appropriately stiff-lipped:“We thenk you from the bottom of our heart”), a Yeoman of the Guard, a devious Gondolier, an Italian girl, Signor Vivaldi (in the style of “ thatsa soma spicy meatballsa”), a French Border Guard and Watchman, King Louis XIV (channeling Inspector Clouseau: “Eegnorant geerl! Ze French invented ze oboe!” and perhaps my favorite, Mr. Eccles (Imagine Maggie Smith, dressed in men’s evening clothes, launching verbal zingers at the Downton Abbey dinner table). Combine this with Julie’s deft handling of the hundreds of kids in the audience--training them to sing and dance on cue and to recognize the “secret tune”—and we have a winner of a show! This took place in the auditorium of the San Diego Museum of Art, a stunning location atop a hill with Spanish baroque architecture and palm trees. Just steps away from us, as the story’s Venice chapter unfolds, a Canaletto painting of Piazza San Marco resides in the permanent collection of the museum.

Students waiting to watch The Quest for Arundo Donax


It would be heartbreaking to leave San Diego if we were going anyplace else than Santa Barbara, which has all the natural charms of La Jolla with the addition of wonderful architecture, ranging from Spanish mission style to Victorian to California Arts and Crafts. The perfect weather continues, and the city smells wonderful, with flowering trees everywhere. The concert will be in the historic Lobero Theater, the oldest continuously operating theater in California, where we have performed before. I look forward to seeing again the gallery of past performers, which include personal heroes such as Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda…

Lovely Arundo Donax, a perennial cane

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