I know, it’s an old, tired joke, but I like it! Besides, there’s another way to get to Carnegie Hall–buy a ticket. (Did you know that tickets cost $1 and $2 for the opening night on May 8, 1891?} And, it was an auspicious beginning with Peter Tchaikovsky on the program conducting his “Festival Coronation March“. ( Did you know that Tchaikovsky was so superstitious that he would hold his head on when he conducted afraid it might topple off. Honest!!!)
Last week I used my fourth and final ticket in an International Orchestra Series I had purchased. This one was the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. They featured a marvelous pianist named Nikolai Lugansky in the Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 in C Minor. It was an encore performance. (Did you know that in 1909 this same concerto was performed on that very stage by Rachmaninoff, himself, and the Boston Symphony?)
A sense of wonder struck me as the musicians entered. Here I was, a girl from Augusta, Arkansas, sitting in this famed Music Hall, watching a performance by accomplished musicians from t he beautiful city of St. Petersburg. Who would have ever thought it!!
I remember a few years back when I had been struck with the same wonder. My cousin, Martha, and I had gone to the Metropolitan Museum for a Van Gogh show and had walked down to the Plaza Hotel for lunch–on the way we had casually passed Al Pacino walking the other way. (I had a hard time acting nonchalant.) At lunch, I said, looking under the table and seeing a plug, “Used to, when you had a call, they’d bring the phone right over to the table and plug it in, Now, I believe they use cordless. . . . . . . . Did you ever think we’d be sitting at a table in the Plaza having lunch.”
“No, and I don’t have the slightest idea what to do with this,” she replied, holding up a fish knife.
The Plaza has changed a lot and so has Al Pacino, but the Met and Carnegie Hall remain constant. St. Petersburg is the ‘Venice of the North’ and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic is a proud Russian institution.
But you don’t see many fish knives around anymore.
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