They used to be called "talent shows" and were popular long, long before the Bristh "...Got Talent" television show which spawned "American Idol." The Cape Cod Symphony orchestra is currently sponsoring a talent competition with desirable (not huge, not tiny) cash prizes for young, not yet professional classical musicians. Yesterday I heard seven finalists: three pianists, a soprano, baritone, a cellist and a clarinetist in "solo" (with piano accompanists, of course). All were very talented, it was a wonderful concert. And what personality also! The singers were very expressive and dramatic singing opera arias, it seems to me cellists are the most deeply meditative and expressive of string players, the clarinetist came on in a wheelchair having, as the moderator said, "taken the actor's good wish of 'break a leg' literally." She played beautifully.
But the piano is the emperor of instruments. A young man was very fine playing from a Brahm's concerto with an accompanist on a second piano. A young woman in a blazing red dress played part of a Ravel piano concerto -- jazzy and delightful, she smiled -- reminding me of ballerinas who come on stage executing difficult moves and smiling with the apparent joy they feel and are imparting to the audience -- this is rare for instrumentalists (except when cellist are playing something light and practically bouncing out of their chairs. Watching her introducing her music with perfect glissandos up and down the whole keyboard, five of them I think, I was smiling before the syncopate parts began.
But the first pianist, another young woman, appeared in a magenta gown with a glittering collar (she was willowy and beautiful), then sat down, with her accompanist at the almost hidden piano, to play the last movement of the Saint Saens 3rd piano concerto, opening like the first brilliant fireworks display on the Fourth of July and barely slowing through the moment. The auditorium vibrated, I believe, more than if there had been a whole orchestra behind her. She was intent, her hands almost a blur at times. This was a young woman intent on making an impression and she certainly did. I strongly suspect she will be the ultimate winner. It was an unforgettable performance.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!