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Music Scene : Concerts in the Dome

Trio Mount Wilson Concerts in the Dome

An important part of my school’s curriculum includes inviting students to attend great art gallery openings or exhibitions or inspiring concerts.

After having recently friended a number of professional musicians on Facebook, my feed started populating with invitations to upcoming concerts from around the world. One, in particular, caught my eye: the Mount Wilson Observatory’s Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome. Music in the dome of an observatory?! I had to learn more.

I reached out to their artistic director, cellist Cécilia Tsan, who graciously informed me about this year’s lineup.

 
2019 Sunday Concerts at the Dome
(Click image to view and print)
 

The Sunday, May 5, 2019 concert caught my eye: “Celebrating the Gypsy Jazz of Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli!” Those who know me know how much I love that style of French Gypsy jazz from the 1930s. I often play it as while teaching my art classes. It transports me to another time. With top musicians, Ben Powell, violin, Roch Lockyer, guitar, Brian Netzley, bass, the deal was sealed. I definitely planned to attend.

 
2019 May 5 Concerts in the Dome
(Click image to view and print)
 

Without my asking, Ms. Tsan’s kindly offered to look into securing a special group rate for my students. That was so thoughtful of her! Within a day the event coordinator followed up with me to confirm the deal for my school. I immediately put the word out to my students. #lovemyjob

On Sunday, May 5, 2019, my hubby, Barry Wehrli and I made the trek to the Mount Wilson Observatory. The weather was brisk, in the upper 40s, lower 50s with a little mist starting to come in. Good thing I had asked ahead regarding attire for myself and students!

At the parking lot, we waited with a small group for a shuttle van which drove us up to the Observatory. (It is about a 10-minute walk from the parking lot to the site.) The driver who was also the groundskeeper regaled us with tidbits about the observatory and grounds on the way up to the site.

Ms. Tsan was there to greet us before heading off to a concert performance at the Disney Concert Hall.

While waiting for the show, Barry and I wandered about the facility.

 
 

We noshed from a refreshment table laden with delicious cheeses, fruit, and crackers along with coffee, tea, and lemonade.

 

Refreshments at Concerts in the Dome

 

When the “concert hall” was ready, we ascended several staircases to arrive at our seats.

 

Linda Wehrli at the Mount Wilson Observatory Staircase

 

A docent shared intel about the telescope and the great work they are doing at Mount Wilson. He then treated us to have the room where we were sitting, move around the telescope. Although the telescope is bolted in place, we experienced the optical illusion of it moving, when we were indeed the ones moving around the telescope. Fun!

 

Mount Wilson Observatory Concert HallMount Wilson Observatory Concert Hall

 

The acoustics were divine. The violin, guitar, and bass had a bell-like tone. No need for amplifiers! Clips from the concert can be enjoyed on my hubby’s Facebook page. Clip 1 Clip2 Enjoy!

The musicians shared stories with us about the pieces they played and how they came to love the work of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Their playing was authentic and beautiful. Everyone in the audience was grooving or tapping their feet. It was a magical concert that lifted the spirits, ending in a standing ovation.

 
Ben Powell, Violin, Roch Lockyear, Guitar, Brian Netzley, Bass
Ben Powell, Violin, Roch Lockyear, Guitar, Brian Netzley, Bass
Ben Powell, Violin, Roch Lockyear, Guitar, Brian Netzley, Bass
Ben Powell, Violin, Roch Lockyear, Guitar, Brian Netzley, Bass
 

We stayed and chatted it up with the musicians. They were warm, engaging and so happy to learn about my teaching practice and that I had invited my students to attend. We all agreed that students of all ages need to attend live music concerts more often. These gentlemen are lovely people who I am now proud to befriend.

 
Roch Lockyear, Ben Powell, Brian Netzley
Roch Lockyear, Ben Powell, Brian Netzley
 

Of the 12 students and their family members invited, four were able to attend. It was a pleasure sharing this concert with my art student, Karoline K., and piano Katie S. and their dates.

 
Linda Wehrli with students and musicians
Roch Lockyear, Ben Powell, Katie S., Brian Netzley, Karoline K., Linda Wehrli
 

Photos courtesy of Barry Wehrli.

Sad to depart such lovely company, we rode the shuttle van back to the parking lot where we enjoyed a final spectacular view before heading home.

 

Mount Wilson Observatory View

 

We highly recommend this concert series and encourage you to check it out.
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Pastimes For a Lifetime Art and Piano School is located in Valley Glen, California. 818-766-0614. School is open Tuesday – Saturday year round, except for major holidays.

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6 Comments

  1. Frank Pelteson

    How innovative to hold a concert inside the Mt. Wilson Observatory!
    The important contribution of the Observatory to physics and astrophysics in the progress of Mankind cannot be ignored. It has created a treasure trove of knowledge over the century, that is often underappreciated because so much study is required to appreciate it.
    The astronomers making the observations sacrifice long hours of night doing their stellar photography work under strenuous conditions.
    Adding a musical tribute to this work is really splendid.

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