A few weeks ago Rich and I decided to take advantage of an upcoming kidless weekend and get tickets for one of the Britt Series Concerts. We've been wanting to do this for a while.
The concert that happened to work out for us was the Britt Orchestra and pianist Anton Nel
We had a little extra time before the concert started to stroll the streets of Jacksonville.
You know.... the one in the Oregon Trail game. You can choose to go to Dawson or Jacksonville.
Jacksonville is one of the Gold Mining towns at the end of the Oregon Trail so it was fun to look around.
Saturday afternoon before the concert we explored the town and were lucky enough to have stumbled upon the weekend with Quartets on every corner.
Apparently, during the few weeks that the Britt Orchestra plays, there is an Academy for what looked to be high school students. Kinda like camp but these kids were too good for something called camp. Academy was a much better word. They were amazing. Their Academy had begun a week before and groups of them played at each intersection and at the main venue.
So we strolled the streets of this historic town and listened to these fabulous kids as we went. There were periodic little rain bursts of a few minutes every now and then... enough to make the musicians find shelter for their gorgeous instruments but nothing serious and it felt really good to us in the 100 degree heat.
It gets better.
The concert was due to start at 8 p.m. but they open the gates around 6. Since we had general grass hill seating and a picnic feast planned we headed over that way when the venue opened.
We found a nice little spot on the grass with a good view of the stage.
Popped open our little stadium chairs (there are restrictions about chair height in the grass area) and broke out the picnic.
We brought crackers, several cheeses.. our fav was a Mediterranean Cheddar by Maple Street Creamery out of Sonoma, CA, organic cherries, our favorite kale salad from this blog post, a couple of bottles of San Pellegrino mineral water, a bottle of Cabernet and a bottle of Petite Syrah from Frey Vineyards. I love this stuff cause it's one of the few that are not only organic, but also have no sulfites added.
About then the skies started to look like this
I did not care one bit. I was on a sensory journey to heaven. Warm summer air, a strolling chorale group, string quartets, a bunch of my favorite foods to snack on...
As the orchestra warmed up I looked over at Rich and laughed.
I could not remember the last time this many of my senses were engaged all at one time.
We talked about how we should do this more often, how we should one day bring our grandchildren.
That's how great it was.
We don't have grandchildren.
And still it gets better.
I'd like to apologize in advance for the rest of these photos.
The Britt has a rule about not bringing cameras into the venue so I left my beloved Nikon behind... and was later very glad for that.
All of the photos in this post were from my cell phone camera.
This is the view from our spot on the grass hill... only there were more people... I took this later in the evening... but I wanted to show you our original location.
About half an hour into the concert the sky just let loose with and deluge of rain, thunder, lightning... the works.
And then I laughed again.
Just when I thought my senses were on overload they went to a whole other level... over the top crazy experience.
The piano onstage started to get wet so the orchestra stopped, covered the piano and waited for the storm to subside.
Apparently most of the concert goers did not share my sense of joy.
The vast majority left.
We were completely soaked.. as in our clothes were still wet 24 hours later soaked... and still ridiculously happy.
The concert director invited the remaining crazies onto the stage to get out of the rain and potential lightning.
Now I know an opportunity when I see one and I was not about to let this one pass me by.
And that is how we ended up onstage, at the Britt.
Five feet from Anton Nels' shoulder.
As he played solo for a while like we were in his living room.
And then the orchestra came back and took their places.
The audience was invited to fill in among the muscicians in any open seats and along the back and front of the stage. "There's still some room in the Bass section".... What??? Is this for real?
More giddy laughing from me.
We moved off to the side a bit. Now four feet from the Violin 1 section.
See all the random people in there? It was all so surreal.
We're all just one big happy family by now... gathered round the orchestra.
And then the Conductor begins the remaining concert peices as planned.
I mean I could read the music from where I stood....Well I can't actually read music ... but if I could... I was close enough!
The Britt blog has a video that the guy standing next to us took if you want to see more.
Thanks to the Britt staff and the musicians for such a memorable evening.
We look forward to someday bringing our grandchildren.
On Sunday we attended church in a little church built in 1858. And we believed it... the floors slope to the left and each board is worn and cupped. It was fascinating to look around and think of all the knees that spent time on those kneelers...the prayers of joy and sorrow that had been whispered, the weddings, the funerals, the thousands of wiggly children. It was probably not my most attentive Sunday.
I'm having a little trouble fitting this into the everyday gift category.
But I'm just gonna laugh and go with it.
Here's to not missing out on an opportunity.