(Okay. So it probably couldn't really be termed "Celestial" since it's all about witches and beheadings and opium and stuff. But it was amazing.)
When The Maestro and I were dating, we went to see Keith Lockhart's debut as the music director of the Utah Symphony. The orchestra played Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz that night. The BYU Philharmonic had actually recently played it, and Joel played his trumpet fingerings on my hand for the entire piece. (How romantic, right?)
I should also say that Joel is pretty much obsessed with Berlioz. He did his dissertation on Berlioz' music, his CD collection has an entire shelf devoted only to Berlioz, and he knows so much about the man, he could probably teach a Berlioz history class for an entire year and never even have to open a book. So, when he saw that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was playing a "Berlioz Spectacular" and that it was the debut of music director Riccardo Muti, it pretty much decided when we would be taking the temple trip we had planned for sometime this fall.
And who can do a Berlioz Spectacular without playing Symphonie Fantastique? No one, that's who. So, 12 years later, we sat in another symphony hall listening to another orchestra and another music director conducting the same symphony. Only this time The Maestro conducted in my hand instead of playing his trumpet fingerings.
The Chicago Symphony has always been Joel's favorite, and it was a dream come true for him to be there. I almost got more pleasure from watching my husband's transcendent facial expressions than I did from the symphony itself.
So, here's how our evening went down.
We arrived into Chicago a lot later than we had planned due to construction traffic and a small matter of taking the wrong interstate. It still led to Chicago, just a little bit more round aboutly. So, by the time we checked into our hotel, the train we had planned to take into the city was already long gone. So, we got ready and ate Chipotle near the hotel (instead of deep dish downtown) and headed for the train station.
Even though we were hurrying as fast as we could, we still arrived at the station only 5 minutes before the train was due to arrive. In fact, a train rolled in as we parked our car, so we ran to catch it, only to find out it wasn't the right one. (Phewsh.) But, then I realized it was pretty cold and I had left my coat in the car, so Joel ran back to get it. And he booked it back to the station, because a train was obviously coming. My hero. Too bad the train still wasn't the right one!
And so we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
Our train finally came about 1/2 hour late. But, at least we didn't miss it, so we didn't mind.
After about an hour of riding on the train, we arrived at Union Station where we promptly caught a cab to Orchestra Hall, just in time to find our seats before the baton came down.
And the concert was seriously amazing. I've heard some pretty good orchestras in my life, but Chicago has one of the best. And you think orchestras are good, until you hear the best, and you realize just how amazing the best is. Besides Symphonie Fantastique, they also performed Lelio, which uses a narrator, vocal soloists and chorus along with the orchestra. Gerard Depardieu narrated in his native French and he was brilliant. Never broke character once. The soloists were fantastic, and the chorus heavenly. Truly a perfect concert.
After the concert was over, we realized that we only had 3 minutes to catch the train, so we stayed downtown for a few more hours. We walked around the cultural center for a while, then decided to get some dessert somewhere.
We ended up at the Rhapsody Restaurant, which is right next to Orchestra Hall. Not only did we have some pretty fancy dessert that was really, really good, we got to see Maestro Muti, Gerard Depardieu, the Chorus Master, and several of the other musicians eating there. The Maestro and other VIP's had their own room, but they walked right by our table en route, and everyone applauded them.
Then it was time to find our way back to Union Station to catch the train back to the hotel. I loved the green lights shining up on the pillars at the station. This kind of old world big city architecture is one of my favorite things in the entire word.
Right next to fabulous fall vistas.