Monday, March 03, 2008


The university where I teach has a fabulous arts center, bringing in wonderful acts all year round. They offer discounted subscriptions, too, and often Mark and I have bought one, choosing five acts (or so) to attend over the course of a year. Usually one or two are great, most are fine; I think we've only left one at intermission thinking we'd made the wrong choice. This year we didn't subscribe; there were a few things I thought were interesting, but the only event I really, really wanted to attend was the performance of Bobby McFerrin and Voicestra (try clicking to play the radio). If all you know of Bobby McFerrin is "Don't Worry, Be Happy," (which is fabulous, but overexposed), you may be surprised to hear how much I wanted to go--but then again, you're probably not reading this if that's all the McFerrin you know. (I've been searching for a while for his Psalm 23 and his amazing music for a reading of "The Elephant's Child" done by Jack Nicholson, but I can't find them online. Take my word for it, they are worth buying.) Anyway.

It sold out before we could order our subscription. In fact, I canceled the whole subscription when I found out that show was sold out--I just didn't see the point. And I've been slightly mourning that decision, because it's always, really, a good thing to go out and experience live performance--but I forget that repeatedly, and then wander around the house glumly wondering why my life is so boring. Sigh.

So I was in that glum, bored state yesterday. I've been glum and bored for a while, actually, which I attribute to the length of February, the grey skies, and an unusually extended "hangover" from big projects that came due at the end of January.

All I wanted to do was go hear Bobby McFerrin. I knew the concert was that night, and that it had been sold out for months. I started fantasizing about it in the morning (when, coincidentally, our choir sang the McFerrin setting of Psalm 23). As the day wore on the idea became a bit obsessive--I began to think the only thing that would snap me out of my glumness was Bobby McFerrin, and that if I couldn't go, I would just collapse into a heap. Nonetheless I knitted, watched a basketball game, got dinner underway--and watched the clock for when the box office would open.

The basketball game went into a surprisingly exciting overtime, and I lost track of time for a few minutes. So it was about fifteen minutes after the box office opened that I finally called. And, yes, they did have some tickets, and yes, I could have them. The show was in about an hour and fifteen minutes. We gulped down dinner and ran out the door, leaving the kids to finish the cleanup. (Remarkably, in a special bonus gift, they did it!) And then we sat in amazement, joy, and wonder as McFerrin and Voicestra played --and I mean played-- in front of us for two hours. They improvised the entire show, with no intermission, including dancers and singers from the audience for a while, giving the lead to various different singers, always coming back to the power and the purity of the voice.

It was astonishing. It was uplifting. And now I feel as if spring really is on the way.

(Edited to add this video of Bobby McFerrin on Sesame Street)


readingwritingliving said...

Libby, that Birdland clip made my morning! I am happy now. and I am SO HAPPY that you were able to get to that show - you were SO meant to be there. Happy Spring!!

Becca said...

Oh man, I am soooo glum and bored. Bored, bored, bored. I can't even think of anything that would cheer me up, but I'm going to try and take inspiration from you showing it is possible.

Libby said...

Susan, thanks! It really did make a difference. It helped, too, that it's warm and sunny and breezy today. I feel terrible complaining when we've really had a mild winter, but February is just the worst for me.

Becca, hang in there! Last week I couldn't think of anything that would cheer me up, either.

Lilian said...

Ooooh, I'm so jealous!! I want to see him someday. I'm thrilled that you got to go, though. How perfectly wonderful!!