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