Friday, December 03, 2010

Music to Soothe the Soul

Branson over Thanksgiving was simply THE BEST. We ambled down the road early on Wednesday and were in Branson by noon. Checked into the motel -- La Quinta happily accepts dogs withOUT requiring deposits (no pun intended) -- so they were booked solid, of course. I had arranged our room early and we had a handicapped room with a handicapped parking space right in front of our ground floor accomodations. The motel was clean (spotless, in fact), the beds were new and comfortable -- and the bathroom was a big as the room. We loved staying there. So did the dogs.

We saw two shows; both were excellent. On Wednesday night we took in Yakov's Russian Family Circus (dinner) show and we both loved it. Great acts with an amusing dinner served, not at tables, but in your seat in the auditorium.

On Thursday we went to the Welk Family Resort for Thanksgiving dinner -- the only bad meal we had in Branson (pressed turkey should not cost $28 a person). The show was Tony Orlando and the Lenon Sisters -- with a very superior live band. The performances were professional and we enjoyed them -- not as nearly as much as the circus. Still a good evening and as I had grown up with the Lenon Sisters I was glad to catch their acts. Only three of the sisters perform now -- two have retired -- and the third sister was the youngest and was never part of the original act.

Of course, we did some shopping. We took in the I-Max theater and saw a show on Alaska. We ate out at all the cheap restaurants and buffets. Usually we'd have breakfast about 9 or 10 -- and then an early bird dinner around 4. We took naps when we felt like it. We loaded the trunk with Christmas presents. Mostly we laughed and relaxed and de-stressed ourselves.

We came home early Saturday morning, arriving back in KC around 1 p.m. and we just laid around the house until time for work on Monday, watching TV, reading books, and playing computer games.

Tuesday night we attended the season's second performance of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. It was a wonderful concert -- Schumann and Chopin music -- featuring a married couple of Russian pianists. The music was both approachable, lushly romantic, and buoyant. The orchestra played at full strength -- 32 professional musicians who live in this area -- and the soloists were beyond exceptional.

Thursday night we attended a performance by Leon Fleisher, and again we were simply carried away by the music -- and the story of Mr. Fleisher. During the 1960's, Fleisher was probably one of the top three pianists in the world. After losing the use of his right hand -- for no apparent reason -- he also lost his family and career and became suicidal. It was a hard road back but, after discovering a selection of music created after WWI for a maimed soldier who had lost his right hand, he staged a miraculous come-back -- playing only with his left hand. Eventually he was diagnosed with a brain disorder that caused his right hand to curl under into a ball -- and he found a love of teaching and conducting. Through the use of botox injections and massage he regained the use of right hand -- but at our concert, because of recent surgery on this thumb, he was once again only playing with his left hand. The concert opened by showing the HBO Emmy nominated movie about his life, then he played, and finally he answered questions for the audience. Now at 82 years old, he has learned that his disability was a blessing, rather than a curse -- and he wowed us all with his talent, his humor, and his grasp of music.

So . . . in the last two weeks, we have heard some spectacular music, met / seen some music legends, and prepared our souls for a holiday of wide-ranging surprises, romance and joy, and the harmony of spiritual delights. Thank heavens for the music in our lives.


Donna said...

Thanks for the Branson review! We usually go to Branson at least once a year, sometimes more. We enjoyed the Dixie Stampede; they serve dinner to you where you're sitting, and it's a blast! Maybe next time we'll do the Russian thing. I'm making a mental note of the motel, too. Last time we stayed in a Branson motel, it was not a pleasant experience.

Margaret said...

You've had wonderful times and made great memories! Music truly does soothe the soul. I'm a bit jealous of your exciting life!