John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

  • Music:

The weekend

If there's one thing that makes living in Madison superior to living in Loudoun County, it's the public transit system. Loudoun's public transit was cheap, only fifty cents a ride, but it was also quite limited. It stopped running at 7:00 PM on weeknights, didn't run at all on weekends and major holidays, and failed to serve many parts of the county at all. The reason I bring this up now is because there's really no way I could have done what I did this weekend if I didn't somewhere with a robust public transit system.

Friday night, after treating myself to dinner, I went grocery shopping. Granted, they do have grocery stores in Loudoun County. But I sort of overdid it a little, and ended up with five very heavy bags instead of the two I was anticipating. If I'd not been able to take the bus home my arms would have deeply regretted it.

I spent most of Saturday on the University of Wisconsin campus. I started at the Wisconsin Union Theater, where I saw Waking Sleeping Beauty, a documentary about Disney Animation Studios from 1984 through 1994, a decade during which it rose from its deepest depths (The Black Cauldron) to its highest heights (the Lion King). Afterward the producer, Peter Schneider, came out to talk about the film and take questions from the audience. It was a very good film, one that any Disneyphile should try to see.

After that I walked across the street to the Humanities Building to see a concert by the UW Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble. I had seen a little blurb about it the free weekly, and figured since I was going to be there on campus anyway, I may as well check it out. Besides, I'm a former French horn player, so I'm particularly inclined to appreciate lower brass instruments. It was a good show, with the exception of a rather unpleasant modern piece by John Elliott, I Do, I Undo, I Redo. They performed it well, so far as I could tell, but it was very dissonant and no fun to listen to.

I spent the next ninety minutes or so wandering up and down State Street, visiting the college bookstore and stopping to watch a street performance by the UW Marching Band Drumline, before going to a student horn recital I had seen a poster for while trying to find the auditorium in which the tuba concert was being held. She was very good, certainly several orders of magnitude better than I ever was, and with a single exception I liked all her selections. The exception was this nasty work, "Appel Interstellaire" from Des canyons aux étoiles by Olivier Messiaen, that hurt my ears to hear. But I have to give the student a lot of credit; atonal pieces like that are fiendishly difficult to prepare, and it called for a number of techniques that are not easy to pull off.

On Sunday, I visited a new church: James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church. I liked the people well enough, but I'm really looking for a church with a big choir that participates in the service every week, or nearly so. I'd like to get my voice back in good enough shape to join a symphonic chorus, and I don't think a choir that only performs once or twice a month will help me toward that goal very much. Still, I think I'm going to visit once more, to see what their 11:00 AM service is like (I attended their 9:00 AM service this time around.)

After that I headed downtown for yet another concert. This one was by the Sonora Reed Trio, which hails not from Mexico as the name might suggest, but from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. They were performing at the Chazen Museum of Art, as part Wisconsin Public Radio's weekly series Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen. An excellent performance, and for a change it was not marred by any dissonant avant garde compositions. I had some time to explore the museum before the show started, but didn't have a chance to see everything; luckily, there's another SAL concert in a couple of weeks I'll want to go see, so I'll check out the rest then.

So getting back to the point I was making up top, I wouldn't have been able to do any of this back in Loudoun County, even if they'd been available to do, simple for being unable to get to them. I'm not saying that access to Madison Metro Transit is reason enough in and of itself to justify the move, but it certainly is a nice fringe benefit.

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