Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Muscle Memory: 1, Acts of God: 0

You can tell when people really love what they do. The butcher who suggests a great steak rub that would make you swear off A1 forever. The tow truck driver who cruises town on snowy nights, pulling cars out of snow banks and ditches without giving thought to pay. The young virtuoso violinist that takes the stage in semi-darkness to assuage a sold-out Flynn Center audience. Soovin Kim proved his love for what he does this past Saturday night when he serenaded an audience with Bach's Chaconne as the VSO musicians sat behind him, veiled in shadows. On Monday morning, I expected to see Sunday newspaper clippings detailing our dilemma. I was awfully surprised to learn that the Free Press didn't provide any coverage of the story, despite there being an FP photographer at the Flynn. Instead, we had received three messages from patrons who had come to enjoy the music on Saturday, exalting Soovin for allowing them just that. Below are bits of three messages, passed from us to you.

"Thank you so much for that magical moment Saturday night. Faced with no power and a crowd of people, you all handled that situation with great grace. And gave us a wonderful gift of Soovin Kim. Listening to him in the dark give us that impromptu solo was a night I won't soon forget. Whatever else you can do to replace that evening will only be extra." -- Elise Whittemore-Hill

"You made friends for life Saturday night...people will never forget it!" -- Chris Hadsel

"Last night (Saturday) was one of the most memorable musical experiences I can remember. As I drove through the slushy streets, half flooded from water pouring down the Burlington hill, I wondered how many folks would venture out to hear Soovin Kim and the VSO. As I came down Main Street, I first noticed that the traffic lights at the corner of Church and Main weren't working, and then... the Flynn Marquee was dark!! Oh, no! But I could see people standing out front, so I parked and slogged my way up the half-darkened streets and into the lobby of the Flynn. It was eerie with the emergency lights providing the only illumination. But people were waiting patiently, hoping for that miracle which often happens in these storms: the lights coming back on! Soon the ushers were saying to just go in and take a seat. Never mind about the tickets or what seat you were supposed to have. We moved into the semi-darkened auditorium and found a seat. On stage were the shadowy figures of orchestra members, and in front of them was the lone figure of Soovin Kim, holding his violin. He tried to shout a message to the audience, but it was too noisy in there for him to be heard. So he put his violin under his chin, and started playing that wonderful Bach Partita in D Minor (my favorite unaccompanied Bach violin piece!). The audience who were seated quieted down, and soon even the people coming in were silently finding seats, too (I heard that Troy was outside quieting people down before they entered). And so we sat in that surreal setting - the storm raging outside, the emergency lights faintly illuminating the theatre, the glimpse of Soovin's bow hand moving as his bow flew across the strings - and the sound of Bach reaching out to a faithful and attentive audience. When at last we heard the final chords, we stood up, clapping and cheering. Many of us had tears in our eyes as someone shone a flashlight on Soovin as he accepted the bouquet of roses. I caught a glimpse of him wiping a tear from his face afterwards as he listened to the roar of the audience. Even with the announcement that the concert had to be canceled - a not-unexpected decision by that time - the experience clearly had affected the audience.

"What a tribute to the power of music: the orchestra and staff members who were gamely trying to make the show go on; the audience that was determined to brave the elements to hear their symphony; the soloist playing from his heart in the dark!

"Thanks to all of you. It was a most memorable evening!" -- Anne Brown