A good house met the music, as it were, Saturday night when the Greensboro Symphony opened its season in War Memorial Auditorium of the Greensboro Coliseum. A small portion of the crowd had already done that in a different way Friday over lunch at the Sheraton.
That's when the Sheraton launched its sponsorship of a new preconcert luncheon series, ``Meet the Music.' It brought pleasure on several levels.The guest artist, Russian-born pianist Yefim Bronfman, who became an American citizen in July, was engaging and witty. Confessing to being a reluctant speaker, Yefim spoke briefly and then answered questions.
At what age did he begin to play?
``My mother says I started playing before I was born. I remember playing at 7.'
Where is your permanent residence?
``USAir,' he quipped, then said New York and Connecticut.
Did he have hobbies? Other interests besides music?
``I'm interested in many aspects of life,' he said. ``Music is not enough. It is a part of my life, but it is not all of it.'
Questions about recording and playing to live audiences brought this response: ``When you are recording you can do a passage again, but when you play before an audience you can only do it once. There's the excitement of playing before a crowd. The audience should not affect the music itself, but it does affect the performer. The excitement of a crowd gives that extra edge.'
Maestro Paul Anthony McRae also spoke.
Meeting the music at my table were Jack Horner, Kitty Robison, Joye Brannon, Randall Lolley, Joy and Moon Morrison, and Bettie Johnson. A&T's chancellor, Ed Fort, and his wife, Lessie, attended, as did Jackie Williams, Estelle Eaton, Estelle and Joseph Himes, and Arthrell Sanders, wife of symphony violinist Earl Sanders. Also attending were Debbie Rice-Marko, Peggy Hutson, Kay Hunt, Lib Boone and Joan Craven.
After the concert, a large crowd accepted the invitation extended by the Symphony Guild via Anne Kirkman, president, to a champagne reception in the Blue Room. Give Linda Sullivan and Mary Alice Lemmons the applause for the festive flair. The central buffet, covered with a black-and-white, floor-length cloth, was centered with a large black vase set in a swirl of silver lame and arranged with fresh white flowers and silver spikes.
The concert drew some interesting visitors.
With Dora and Bruce Brodie was Dora's father, Dr. Zdenek Maratka of Prague. Maratka, a gastroenterologist like his daughter, had been to Australia, Hawaii and elsewhere before stopping here. He's head of the Czechoslovakia Society of Gastroenterology, so the trip included a meeting of the World Congress of Gastroenterology.
With Amy Poltenson, the orchestra's marketing director, were her parents, Judy and Arnie Poltenson of Syracuse, N.Y. Amy and the guest artist seemed to enjoy each other's company at the reception. With principal cellist Gayle Massarie were her Michigan parents, George and Oneta Anderson, and her sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Doug Boren. The Borens, with their three daughters, are moving from Hawaii to Greensboro, where Carol will teach in the city schools.
Last month Frank Ahalt celebrated his 80th birthday.
He was surprised by a party thrown by his buddies in the Greensboro Tar Heel Chorus of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America and their spouses.
Frank, a New Jersey native, retired in 1970 after 35 years with Western Electric and travels about 3,000 miles a month across the state in his part-time work with Hydraulics Water Systems Ltd. In addition to being active in the Greensboro Tar Heel Chorus, he sings with the Four Tune Nuts quartet and in the choir at Guilford Baptist Church.
Frank enjoys visiting and singing in nursing homes and retirement centers and goes on all the chorus' road trips. (In October it will go to Savannah to compete in the Dixie District Championship.)
Hap Goudy was MC. Among those attending were two of Frank's three daughters, Laura Huey of Burlington and Francine Strayhorn, who attended with her husband, Earl. Daughter Nannette Ramsey couldn't make it from Illinois. Also present were four grandchildren and two great-grands. Grandson Joey Harris, a chorus member, often accompanies granddad on chorus trips and to nursing homes.
The gang gave the birthday fellow a T-shirt, a Cross pen and a money clip, all with the SPEBSQSA (the association) emblem. Frank, obviously an inspiration to his buddies, was more than surprised. He was downright overcome!