Of all the gifts I'm blessed with, music is the one I'm most grateful for. Music is the blood that runs through our family. It's who and how we are. It's our identity. It's a passion we share and also one that divides us as we analyse and debate the ins and outs of what we're listening to, what we're watching and how to play it. It's led to a solid work ethic, a love of performing and many years of entertaining others.
Mr 10 is latest to be bitten by our musical bug. Our family are currently arguing (with him) about how many instruments he should be allowed to learn simultaneously. We've settled on 2-3 for now, on condition that piano with theory is number 1, followed by guitar and then maybe bass.
This week, I won tickets to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's final performance for 2018, Christmas Pops. It's always a treat to attend a NZSO performance, but pops orchestra programmes offer a great introduction to symphony orchestras by mixing up lighthearted classical arrangements of popular show tunes. It was obvious who would come to the concert with me, and I'm not sure who was more excited: Mr 10 anticipating his first orchestral experience, or me being able to share our family's love of music in yet another way.
From the moment we took our seats, Mr 10 was fascinated. How many instruments could we see? (Too many to count!) Look at all those cellos and double basses! The orchestra took their seats and started tuning. "Wow, even that sounds amazing!" he declared. What instrument is making that sound? (It's an oboe ... oh, now listen to the clarinets!) He watched and listened and joined in the mass chorus numbers with open excitement. So did I!
The programme featured mostly Christmas music, including carols, songs, movie themes and classical works. Australian mezzo-soprano Jacqui Dark was the orchestra's special guest. Her introduction was a beautiful tear-inducing rendition of Climb Ev'ry Mountain from The Sound of Music, taking me back to my teenage years. She entertained and delighted with every number and even bravely attempted the New Zealand version of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The biggest musical highlight for me was a suite of three pieces from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, my favourite ballet and the centrepiece of my Christmas playlist. Of course, Mr 10 loved the arrangement of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, even if he was a bit shy when singing along. (I wasn't - but he's still young enough to not be embarrassed by me doing things like that ... yet.)
The only lowlight of the evening was the late start time for what is essentially a family show. 7.30 pm in summer is fine for grown-ups, but a 9.30 pm finish for little people, even overexcited budding musicians trying their very best to drink in every moment, was all a bit much. He slept well last night!
How special that the NZSO could share the gift of music with a whole new generation. I'm sure many fans were made last night.