Yesterday my sister was playing in a concert, and I brought her down to school with me, and after I was done with class we got Papa John’s pizza and ate it outside in a courtyard no one seems to know even exists. Afterwards she changed into concert clothes. We met some Catholic boys who are friends of ours from orchestra and talked about theistic evolution, and then we all found out we were late, and left in a hurry for the Lutheran church the concert was going to be at.
We make a motley group, numbering three girls and four boys: two Catholics, a Communist Lutheran (in that order, apparently), and four Baptists. (Oddly, all the girls are Baptists.) My sister plays in the orchestra here, which is how she came to know the Catholics (JP and David) and the Communist (Joel).
The other two Baptists came down early for the concert in order to talk about the Communist Manifesto, but the Communist said he’d rather save his energy for playing in the concert, so we postponed the melee that was certain to happen at some point during the evening.
During the final movement of Mozart’s Sinfonietta Concertante, we heard a sound variously described as a crack or a snap, and saw the conductor’s baton go flying out of his hand and arching up over the heads of the violin section of the orchestra. I thought it had broken. It narrowly missed my sister (section leader for the second violins) and landed with a loud rattle on the floor. The orchestra kept playing; the audience gasped and some of us giggled; Dr Rieppel, rather red in the face, attempted to conduct with just his hands, leaning close to the section of the orchestra nearest where the baton had landed.
A violinist in the back row stopped playing, picked it up, and came forward to hand it to him. He took it and went back to conducting. Nobody seemed to be making a lot of mistakes, though the audience was distracted enough perhaps we just didn’t notice.
After the concert was over, several of the players were helping move music stands to the cars. JP, David, and Joel came back inside together. Joel was saying, “and I heard a click, and saw it just leap into the air, and I’m like, it’s heading straight toward me! — Keep playing, keep playing, it’s going to hit someone — and it goes behind me. . . and then Dr Rieppel’s hand is, like, right in my face and he’s looking at me like ‘Give it back!’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t have it’.”
What made it worse, for those of us who knew, was that said baton was Dr Rieppel’s first, (and he’s been conducting for years and years), and he’d recently lost it and was devastated until he found it again. If it had broken, as lots of us thought it had, that would have ruined the concert for him.
It was a quarter to nine now, and the seven of us stood around and talked: either ganging up on Joel to refute Communism, or contradicting JP and David on matters like Sola Scriptura and evolution. A little before nine, people came to close up the church, and we went outside. We stood on the sidewalk between the lawn and the road for another half hour or slightly more, beginning with Joel’s source of absolute authourity and winding up with more controversy over Sola Scriptura, the place of the Apocrypha, and literal translations. The Vulgate was featured too, what with all of us except Joel having been home-schooled and learned Latin.
It’s been unseasonably warm for February in Minnesota, and Olivia, in her nice concert clothes, was the only one who noticed the cold. The sky was clear and at one point we stopped to pick out Orion and at least one of the Dippers (we weren’t sure whether it was the larger or the smaller).
A few cars drove by, and the occupants probably noticed the knot of teenagers standing around in the dark. They might have been surprised to know what we were actually up to.
When we finally had to separate, we did so without enmity, and said we should do this again, maybe when we have more time, and that sort of thing. Philosophy of Religion class, which today was on miracles, reminded me how much more enjoyable it is to discuss philosophy with them, on such amiable grounds.
Olivia and I drove the hour home by ourselves, going over what we’d said and what could have been said better and the funny things, and when we got home we collapsed into bed at eleven o’clock at night, far later than we’re used to staying up, but it was worth it.