Sunday, August 07, 2011

Young and Old and Blind at Wolftrap

I went to Wolftrap last night to hear Arlo Guthrie, having lost track of how many times I had seen him before. I had forgotten the concert also included the NSO. And I never knew about the jazzy string trio Tf3 (Time for Three) that stole the show in my opinion.

After the 6 of us sat down, we had filled the row except for a seat on each end. It was unlikely there would be singles, so maybe we could stretch out a bit or so we thought. But then a hulking big guy showed up at the seat next to me, the kind that barely fits in a regular seat. I noticed he was escorted to his seat and he was blind.

As I sat there reading the program in preparation for the concert, I realized the blind guy was just sitting there without the ability to learn about the evening up front. So I offered to read any part of it he wanted to hear. He opted for the section on Tf3 and we both learned a lot.

He gradually was drawn into the conversation of our group. He seemed to know a lot about everything, including movies. I talked to him about how he “watches” movies or musicals like “Wicked”, which he had just “seen” and loved. In addition to the dialog, he can sometimes get a companion description of what is going on on the screen or stage played through a headset. The Kennedy Center provides this with a 2-week notification. It turns out Tim plays the French horn and is a singer. I knew quite a bit about him by the time the performance got started.

After the NSO played “Hoedown” from Copeland’s Rodeo, Tf3 came out and began to mesmerize us with their virtuosity. They were able to make ordinary violins and a string bass do things I had never before heard. I found myself commenting to Tim from time to time with tidbits like “That’s actually the bass you hear right now.” They were young and energetic and brimming with talent.

For the second half Arlo came out and played mostly songs I had heard before. He plays with the same abandon and enthusiasm, but at 64 his voice is not quite the same. As much as I love Arlo, I was longing for “the boys”, as he referred to Tf3, to come back on stage.

They played together along with the NSO on time-worn favorites like “This Land is Your Land” and “Goodnight Irene.” It was a hot, muggy, music-filled evening that left me humming. I was lucky to sit next to Tim, from whom I got a quick education on how blind people experience things we can see as well as hear.

Check out Tf3 as they play Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".


Blogger Terry said...

That was beautiful! Sounds like a lovely concert, and what a nice experience to share with the blind man.

12:27 PM  
Blogger e said...

In being open to speaking with Tim, you opened a door for both of you. You learned about Tim as a person rather than just talking about his condition or disability. I wish more people could do what you did. Is he someone you would have as a friend?

2:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Terry -- It was an enjoyable experience on many levels.

E -- I would very much like to meet up with Tim again. I asked for his name, but he gave me only his first name. Although I know where he attends church, so I'm sure I could find him if I made the effort. We have many common interests and his blindness seems not to get in the way of any of them.

2:46 PM  
Blogger The Bug said...

I don't know what I enjoyed more - listening to the song or my husband singing it to me in the background :)

Thanks for sharing this story - I am so often in my own head that I would have totally missed the experience with Tim

6:38 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bug -- I am a big Leonard Cohen fan. It's great to see the younger generation discovering him.

As for talking to my seatmate Tim, I am usually not that outgoing, but he just seemed like he needed someone to talk to since he came alone and couldn't engross himself in the printed program.

9:38 PM  

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