Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Heavenly Weekend Part Two: Celestial Music

Almost there!

(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.

My Hero

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.

Metra Train

Our train finally came about 1/2 hour late.  But, at least we didn't miss it, so we didn't mind.

Orchestra Hall

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.

At the Chicago Symphony

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.

Joel with Orchestra Hall

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.

Chicago at Night

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.

Union Station

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.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. Looks like you two had a FABULOUS time!! Lucky ducks! And I love that coat on you Lara!

  2. So essentially what you're saying is that you saw Gerard Depardieu!?! Wow!! :)

    How fun. I love that you expected a wonderful concert and got it, but you also got a little extra adventure and some spontaneous late night partying. How awesome!

  3. Wow! Sounds like an amazing weekend so far. I can't wait to hear the rest.

  4. I grew up at the symphony in my pea coat, tights, and dress so your pictures and story brought back so many memories for me as a child. I sure miss those times. The parts about Berlioz reminded me of the Maestro's testimony about how much music meant to him, and I remember him talking for a few minutes about Berlioz at the time-it was so cute. However, when you add the info about your first concert together and then your recent date night, the testimony along with the stories become just plain romantic! Heavenly weekend indeed! The Chicago temple was the first one I ever went to, I was 12. Good memories, thanks for that.

  5. I must say you look fabulous Lara!

  6. Sounds like a great time! I know what you mean about watching someone enjoy something so much! And does that mean your girls have the Berlioz picture book? What is the name of it? Where the Berlioz the bear is on his way to a concert and his cart get stuck somehow and I think a bumblebee somehow saves the day or something?

  7. Sounds divine. I love that you ran for a train twice, only to wait for your real one. Walking around major cities is one of our favorite couple activities. I need to try to go to more concerts (and by "more" I mean "actually attend one." I am concert backwards)

  8. I am so happy to hear about what a great weekend it was. Love the photos!
    Now, I'd like a few more details about that dessert...

  9. again, such beautiful pictures!! It all sounds so fun and romantic :)

  10. What a fun evening! Getting dressed up to enjoy an evening of beautiful music is one of the best things ever.

  11. I"m sure Joel gave a Sunday School lesson on Berlioz one day in college. ;)

  12. Dessert with the big guns!

    Sounds like a lovely trip - and who doesn't like Chicago?

  13. What a divine night! Wow. It sounds like it was perfect in nearly every way. I miss going to the symphony.

  14. Oh, I can't wait to go investigate "Lelio." That's new to me and it sounds like we should be doing it with the DSO. Another amazing orchestra that you MUST drive, train, walk or run to if they're in the midwest region (and especially if they're doing Berlioz it sounds like...) is the Berlin Philharmonic (or the Berliner Philharmoniker as they like to be called now...). I was out of my mind amazed at the unity, intonation and beauty of that ensemble.

  15. What a neat date! I would have loved the music, and of course hearing Gerard Depardieu speak in French.

  16. What a great getaway for the two of you! Totally know what you mean about a great symphony. I am so glad that you and Joel enjoyed it!

  17. Oh SUPER fun. I LOVE it. A little jealous of the getaway, too. :)

  18. Lara, know what I love about blogs? You can virtually visit so many different places without even packing your bags. And your trip to Chicago was a delight.

    I've never been there, but from your tour, picts & symphony review, I'm booking the next flight out.

    PS: I'm a sucker for old world big city architecture, too.

  19. When I sang with the Utah Symphony Chorus, we performed "L'enfance du Christ" one Christmas. It's hard to believe that the same composer wrote that and the "Symphonie Fantastique". So, so brilliant.

    (So, when I wrote my 'sonnet' a few weeks ago, did you catch the reference to the 'idee fixe'? Totally SF, non?)

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time together. And you, Lara, never fail to stun me with how absolutely beautiful you are. You really need to post more pix of yourself.

    (K, now I sound like a stalker...)

  20. You sat through my own personal hell. I hate that piece. :)

    Drew would have loved it though. Glad you had a nice time. :)

    Where is this fabulous facebook photo? I want to see it more up close. :)

  21. Wow. I totally live vicariously through you. What an awesome experience. I'd love to go to Chicago and hear the orchestra.

  22. Wow, what an incredible experience! And oh, the agony of waiting for a late train, when you have a curtain call to meet. But trains are still wonderful, and I'm glad you made it to the performance!

    (Also, I love GĂ©rard Depardieu—"Jean de Florette" is one of my favorite films.)