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Enjoyed Saturday's Christmas at Carroll concert, as I knew I would. Many changes from last year. New faces and pieces, a different program. I again sat in front. Closer to the action.
One of the most distinguishing features of this concert is that it performs straight through. No intermission. No applause. All Carroll's choirs, wind, brass, handbell and ensembles play one after the other... for the next hour and forty-five minutes. There is a smooth transition, one to the other, and there is a theme: Alleluia!
At least there isn't supposed to be applause. Sometimes it's just too hard to control, as with the powerful Georges Bizet piece "Farandole" for the Wind Symphony. One person gets caught up in the mood and it spreads. There were about four occasions of applause tonight, not counting at the end - out of 23 total musical pieces.
A baby could be heard in the audience before the concert began. I knew that spelled trouble because I know most of the pieces require concentration and absolute silence. There is no amplification. Some of the choirs sang A Capella in the balcony and I was able to hear the subtle nuances from my position by the stage... as long as the baby didn't cry.
For the very last piece, Hallelujah from Handel's Messiah, the entire Concert Choir came to the stage front, standing just inches from my seat. The concert was a huge success and I would take away many memories of the night. The song would be a powerful ending to a remarkable performance and when it was over we would all give them the long standing ovation they deserved.
But something is going on. Someone is talking during Hallelujah. A few rows back, someone is talking loud enough to be heard over the booming Hallelujah Chorus. I see half of the choir distracted and the other half looking somewhere behind me. I couldn't imagine what was happening. Did someone not like the message of Messiah? Was this a protest? I didn't want to turn around, but when I did I saw an elderly man slumped in his aisle seat not moving.
This can't be happening. Everything was fine for the last hour and a half. But the last song?!! Just keep singing, finish the song. Someone will take care of the man. Finish the song so we can all stand up and applaud the fine work everyone did. Don't look over there. The song's almost over. A woman runs in front of the choir to help the man. At last, the song's over, we clap. And clap...
The gentleman lies flat on his back in the aisle no more than six or seven rows back. He doesn't at first appear to be breathing, but no one is doing CPR. People surround him but I can see him well. Is he talking? Yes he's talking! I can leave now. Sirens heard. Ambulance on the way.
Last performace for a year, Sunday at 7:30. Make sure to find a sitter.