In spite of that horrific episode in Toys-R-Us, the weekend was a festive success; crowned, of course, with Handel's Messiah performed by the Seattle Symphony.
They decided to go with the classic chamber music format, eschewing the bombast of a full symphony. A mere half-dozen violinists, 3 cellos, a handful of viola, two upright bass, all directed from the harpsichord. In addition, they chose to add a lute, which was subtle and yet enriching to the whole ensemble. The brass section was represented by two trumpets; their first appearance was off-stage in the "Glory to God," they then reappeared late in the third section for the grand trio of "The Trumpet Shall Sound," "Worthy is the Lamb/Blessing and Honor. . .," and the spine-tingling "Amen." The four vocal soloists (one a last-minute substitution) were splendid, and the Seattle Symphony Chorale were marvelous, rich in tone and warmth.
In this age of instant access to all sorts of recordings, it's easy to get used to hearing all this music through our headphones or stereo speakers. I was reminded again on this night just how much better, how much fuller, how much richer is live sound, resonating straight from string or vocal chord directly to the ear. And Benaroya Hall is a wonderful place to experience it all. It was truly a magical night, topped off by rousing standing ovations and smiles on the faces of all the patrons who exited.
Add to all that the fact that it was a date, or a double-date, to be accurate; begun with dinner at one of Seattle's more popular restaurants, packed to the walls with holiday diners. It was the night like which I need much more. Good food, good conversation, laughter, holiday decorations and cheer.
And then. . .afterward we were going to meet at a coffee shop before heading our separate ways. But it took longer getting out of the parking garage than we hoped. So a text message to a friend who suggested a French bakery/coffee shop in Bell Town, dodging crowds of hipsters dressed as Santa Clauses, and into the warmth for a cup of coffee and some dessert.
But wait. . .down at the end of the row of seats. . .was that? Could it be? Why, yes, it is! Henry Mark! A friend from college, who I haven't seen in almost 10 years. But there he was, sitting with some friends. So the night was finished with a happy reunion, and another few moments with Robert and Kristen, as well.
So, forget Toys-R-Us and their demonic toys. It really was a great weekend, one full of memories to last for years to come.