Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Hilariously Terrible Orchestra

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

Do you recognize the Scottish gentleman playing the Sousaphone (looks like a small tuba) in the lower center of the photo above? If you don't, he is Alexander McCall Smith, famed author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book series (as well as several other brilliant book series).

McCall Smith immortalized the wacky Really Terrible Orchestra in his Isabel Dahlousie books and joined them for a great night at Town Hall in New York. My mother and I were lucky enough to see their New York performance during Tartan Week (a couple of weeks ago). We had excellent seats in the balcony of Town Hall, with a very good view of the stage.

From March 2009 Recipes, Reviews and Other Photos

Later, during the audience participation portion of the evening, we discovered that we had even better seats than we originally thought. The people visiting from Scotland sitting in front of us were incredible singers, especially the woman directly in front of me. She definitely could have been a professional. I had to stop singing just to enjoy her performance as well as the orchestra's.

The musicians were hardly terrible, but very funny. You could hear the quality of the playing during the original song "Mma Ramotswe" as well as in the classic "Highland Cathedral" -- both done beautifully.

The playing was broken up by a pretty long interview with McCall Smith, but he and the interviewer said the orchestra needed a break. We learned a few things about him as well as the orchestra during the interview.

Finally, I'm really happy to have been able to experience this with my mother. She and I saw McCall Smith on a previous book tour (at the Cooper Union), but this was another, completely different, yet entertaining evening. She and I enjoy reading McCall Smith's novels and passing them back and forth. We always have plenty to talk about as it is, but this is like we have our own little book club.

Most of all, I'm grateful that I get to spend time with Mom. Many of my friends either no longer have their moms in their lives or they don't get along. Lucky for John and me that we have our moms and we very much enjoy spending time with them.

I hope that the Really Terrible Orchestra returns for another concert or takes their show on the road in the United States. I'll bet there will be many happy audiences.

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