There are days that simply swell a heart, bring a skin layered warmth. Beyond expectations. To have such a day visit refreshes as a first breath breaking water. Thankfully filling.
Recitals are common place. Happen everywhere, from youth to adult, with attendance primarily family with a few other attendees thrown in. The count matters not, for excitement, nerves, pride, and endurance all come together for any performer at such time and most are looking to have it completed. Love will come from the seats no matter what takes place, good or otherwise.
I usually am non existent on anything beyond ten miles of home; Christmas excepted. Just that time of life. Yet as his ‘time’ came closer, with my youngest home on leave from University, I was curiously occasioned to ride along. I hid the intention, for many times I want to attend an event for the sake of family and friends but the body says no.
A calm assurance prevailed me to venture the two and one half hours to St. Peter. You see, my nephew was playing. Noah Grothe. I love this kid as I do all the family Klaers. And to be with my wife and youngest daughter before she went back to school prevailed the event with added delight (my oldest having to work.)
The outer family gathered for lunch a ‘hiccup’ from the school. Klaers are a supportive clan, the base layer love. All who could were trekking down.
Gustavus Adolphus is an old college brought on stage early in Minnesota history, the oldest of several Lutheran colleges in Minnesota. It began in 1862 during our Country’s worst nightmare and moved to the current location in 1876. It had a major face lift in 1998 when a mile wide tornado tore into it, one of the worst disasters to a U.S. education institution ever. It survived and now sits in the top 100 for liberal Arts education. Music was and is a major component of study.
Noah is a senior and to complete his major in Music he, as all must in the program, needed to ‘develop, communicate, orchestrate and perform a senior recital with the instrument of choice-to show development in different strata of musical themes. The length to be beyond an hour and short of two. It is a exacting yet compelling in the coming together of lessons, theory, education and performance. The recital an exclamation point after four years completed.
He comes from a background of piano, tethered together with discoveries of various other instruments along his growth cycle. I don’t think he ever did not like an instrument. It was in prime adolescence when the trombone became king, the sole occupier of ‘first chair.’ High school featured his involvement in both band, orchestra and jazz band, the latter where I heard him play that sliding brass horn while performing both junior and senior year at ‘Famous Dave’s – Mpls’ allowing me to take in a music that was not exacting to my ear, which mattered not, then indulge in great ribs. Most of the family came and the event was fun. That he cased his trombone and headed to St. Peter was never anything but, ‘hope and pray he does well.’ He sort of ‘shipped’ off my radar excepting notification that he was doing great.
Now we were headed down for his Senor Recital. Most were wondering if he would play piano, sing, and/or play a guitar along with the bass trombone that had become his ‘side arm.’ I think we were wondering how a trombone would carry the recital on its own. Sing, yes, but only one arrangement with a choral group in which he was involved. He arranged the song. But excepting the closing number, he played his trombone with a piano as accompaniment. No worries. He took us on a ride.
But none of that was material to us until we entered the small auditorium; quaint, as if it was built for one-on- one interaction. The program spelled out the itinerary and I was smitten to see that John Phillip Sousa wouldn’t be joining us nor be smothered with Jazz. The program had jazz of course, but Sousa never showed. The performance was nicely layered with music of his choice demonstrative of his wide range and ability.
Entering the hall, I sat myself down where I thought I could be most comfortable and would guess that between fifty and one hundred found seats of choice. The hall looked to sit perhaps three hundred. Mild yellow lights reflected nicely off a ‘soft’ acoustic ceiling with dark wood trim to extenuate the lightness. The stage offered a mellow atmosphere. Hoping that he was not entering in a nervous state (as if one could) the recital began exactly on time. 1:30 p.m.
It was when he entered, all six foot seven (or thereabouts) with red hair catered toward a strawberry tint and rose cheeks, dressed in shirt and tie, that I found myself relaxed. A delightful aura accompanied him, a visually relaxed confidence in what he was about to be, a ‘Schauspieler’ extraordinaire. His precision of movement as he proceeded to his trombone was comforting and as his chosen accompanist came curtain left, they both bowed and readied. ( A wonderful piano player who understood it was Noah’s recital.)
The music rolled out in stages all designed to illuminate his artistic involvement as well as ability. Then came the extreme surprise. His methods to nurture the music to fit the song (described in the Program Notes nicely written by Noah himself) caught me puzzled. Was this a brass instrument? Melodically, he persuaded the trombone to echo the tone of a French Horn, muted trombone without the mute (he put one on later for one piece) and a softness of tone I was unfamiliar with. Nothing brassy to his art. Music floated out matching the tome of the stage and it was hard not to see the Glow. The music drifted on shimmering light. His topics of play ranged from Telemann’s Sonata in F minor, a scale tailored toward melancholic vibrations to a mellowed out ‘James Brown in the Twilight,’ from the Concerto for bass Trombone and Orchestra. With a trombone ensemble playing an arrangement for five, I was alone, swept up and caught by mood, yes, but there was an aura surrounding the tall figure, that Glow, which gradually became brighter. It was reflecting throughout the hall. Closed eyes extenuated the feeling.
Then ‘Danny Boy,’was performed, with Noah, by the glee group G# Men’s Acapella. The Glow continued as his formalized arrangement echoed around me. I… watched Noah. That Glow separated him as the lead sang sonorously. A separation distinct as he directed and sang.
They departed and he returned, guitar in hand and took a stool set center stage front and proceeded, quietly, to thank all, but foremost his mother, sister and his Father in heaven. There was a hush, more muffled than any before. He had picked a worship song, one that he had employed in his days of worship leading both on campus and off. He invited the audience to join him…and they did, but it was his playing, his voice, surrounded by the beautiful audience ‘choir’ singing to God, “How Deep the Father’s Love” which enchanted.
I was mesmerized now. Noah was immersed in a tranquil, loving and lingering song sung not just to God but to his family, friends and mankind. The stage was immersed in the light of Noah’s Glow. I had tears in my eyes.
Noah’s Glow…enraptured me. I did not want to leave. And did not, until all were gone. I watched the empty stage grow dim as the Glow ebbed away. Then it was gone. But some of it was left inside of me. His parting “gift.”
“When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.” Exodus 33-35