Fred LaSor: Don’t look at the trombones

The Carson City Symphony, under the direction of David Bugli, performed July 4 at Mormon Station Park in Genoa in front of an enthusiastic crowd of several thousand picnickers and music lovers. This was its fourth performance at the Genoa Americana Celebration on July 4.

Seated under the massive cottonwood trees with a brisk wind blowing, it was a treat to hear these volunteer musicians celebrate the 241st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with a mixed concert of show tunes and patriotic music.

There’s something magical about an afternoon performance under large trees in a city park. And it was truly a special occasion to attend that performance in Genoa — Nevada’s oldest permanent settlement — with enough shade and breeze to make the 90-plus-degree afternoon bearable. Then driving home beside fields where beef cattle bury their nose deep in rich green grass, surrounded by the snow-spotted peaks of the Carson Range and the Sierra mountains in Alpine County to the south, just heightens the sense of blessedness I feel to be here in Northern Nevada.

American Foreign Service personnel who, like me, had the good fortune to be assigned to Nairobi, capital of Kenya in East Africa, were frequently heard to say “another day in paradise.” Equatorial Africa, when experienced at 5,000 feet above sea level, can be marvelously temperate, and the sunlight has a special quality not unlike Tahoe’s. Taking a page out of Camelot, even the rain falls only at night. But we here in the Carson Valley have many of the same natural beauty surrounding us, plus the added benefit of four seasons — and the Carson City Symphony. Check out its website for upcoming events.

Back to the afternoon’s concert. It started out with presentation of the colors by a local Boy Scout troop, followed by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. If I were a music critic, I might wonder why we then moved onto music from “Cats,” by a British composer, and from Chiapas, a state in Mexico, but the feel of the afternoon was so special I’ll forego the opportunity to criticize the selection of music. A few people danced, a lot of people took photos on their phones (that statement would have made no sense 10 years ago), and a good time was had by all.

And we need to recognize the tough circumstance the musicians were playing under. The wind was riffling the music scores, the audience was a mixed bag of people who wanted to hear good music and others who wanted to enjoy barbecued chicken and soft drinks sold by the fire department, and through it all was the constant flow of traffic: people looking for a place to spread a blanket and motorcycles rumbling by on Main Street. About the only thing we didn’t have was a thunderstorm. And please don’t overlook the acoustics in an open air setting: surely not what a symphony orchestra, or a chorus, is accustomed to.

Richard Wagner famously said, “Never look at the trombones — it only encourages them.” The trombones didn’t try to horn in where they didn’t belong at the Genoa concert, as nearly as I could tell, even if one looked at them. Nor did Mark Twain let Wagner get away with that sharp commentary: Twain in his turn is reported to have commented: “Wagner’s music is much better than it sounds.” That’s about the most perfect takedown one could utter about a musician.

All in all, a special afternoon with surprisingly good music given the circumstances, in a special corner of Nevada. My congratulations and thanks to the Carson City Symphony.

Fred LaSor enjoys good music, and especially in a pleasant setting.


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