On Thursday, Oct. 11, I fulfilled my lifelong dream of pretending to be Frasier Crane for an evening. If you are reading this and you do not know who Frasier Crane is, stop right now. Put down the newspaper. Run to your nearest television. This is a minor sitcom emergency. I promise there is a chance that NBC’s “Frasier” will become one of your favorite television shows. It is a hilarious view into the life of a lovably pompous radio psychiatrist, Frasier Crane. I spend night after night living vicariously through Frasier and his brother, Niles, as they fumble their way through Seattle’s elite social circle.
But the sad fact of the matter is, without a Harvard degree, a psychiatrist’s license, and a liberal dose of snobbery, there is no way that I would ever be able to experience high-society hijinks like Frasier Crane. Until, that is, The Philadelphia Orchestra introduced College Night. On this special night, all local college students were invited to Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for a free concert.
I nearly shriveled up and died when I saw the email telling me about this opportunity. A free concert? “Concert” is one of my favorite words, second only to “free.” I quickly called my friend, who also happens to be a huge “Frasier” fan, and told her to get her fancy clothes ready. We were going to spend a night like Frasier and Niles at the symphony.
Unfortunately, I did not end up dressing so fancily when Oct. 11 rolled around. My outfit was lacking a monocle, top hat, and cane. Oh the horror! Mr. Peanut would have been disappointed. Luckily, just like a college campus, the Kimmel Center welcomed attendees in all levels of dress. Some looked like they had just rolled out of bed, while others did an excellent job of getting into the high-society mood.
My friend and I quickly realized that finding a seat would be a difficult task.The ushers struggled to fit every eager college student into the concert hall. We were buoyed up and down the stairs until, finally, an usher on the second level found a spot for us. We took our seats in the box at stage left, and marvelled at our view. It was perfect for getting an up-close look at all of the musicians.
I immediately noticed a cellist who looked just like Tim Gunn (of “Project Runway”) from behind. There was also an impressively agile old man who played violin, and a girl who had great hair, but seemed to never be playing her oboe when I looked over at her. I’m on to you, oboe girl.
The conductor, Cristian Macelaru, talked to the audience in a relaxed and friendly manner. He compared the tempo of the pieces to things college students could relate to like pulling all nighters and dancing at parties. Suddenly, it seemed like being Frasier Crane was not as hard as I thought it was.
The orchestra began by playing Franz Liszt’s “Les PrÃ©ludes, Symphonic Poem No. 3.” Next up was Camille Saint-SaÃns “Cello Concerto No. 1.” This set was especially remarkable with the addition of Carol Jantsch’s tuba performance. Jantsch earned her spot in The Philadelphia Orchestra while she was a senior in college. On top of that, she is the first female tuba player in a major symphony orchestra. It was not hard to understand why Jantsch deserves her position; she played throughout the entire piece with remarkable ease and unmatched skill. And she only put the tuba down once! The entire audience was amazed.
Next up was Karim Al-Zand’s “City Scenes: Three Urban Dances for Orchestra.” Finally, the concert ended with a few of Sergei Prokofiev’s pieces from “Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64.” These pieces were sinister and emotional, and the audience was wrapped up in their beauty. As “The Death of Tybalt,” came to an end, everyone in the crowd got to their feet and applauded the fantastic performance. In all, the concert only lasted for about an hour and 30 minutes, but it made a lasting impression.
In the lobby of the Kimmel Center, a fantastic live band played, free refreshments were served, and hundreds of college students mingled like professionals. As my friend and I walked around and munched about an entire bakery’s worth of doughnuts, we talked about how glad we were that The Philadelphia Orchestra provided us with such a fun, free night of entertainment.
Don’t worry. It is not too late to hobnob like a socialite: The Philadelphia Orchestra offers their eZseatU program for college students. Membership is only $25 and it buys students access to an unlimited number of concerts. At such an affordable price, we now have an excuse to be Frasier Cranes all year long.
Molly Herbison is a second-year student majoring in Spanish. She can be reached at MH757997@wcupa.edu.