13 May 2018

Music Critic Comments on Nudity at the Chamber Music Concert - a Vignette from the 80s


It was not often that we sat in the first few rows at the Founders Theatre in Hamilton, NZ.. That night back in the late 1980s a visiting Trio from the South Island was playing, three males, two young and the leader not so young, playing, and it seemed right to sit closer and our friends thought so too. So we all stretched out along a row about five back from the front.

The first item after the intermission was a melodious Schubert trio; we sat relaxed and in wonder. Until, for me that is, the leader turned a page of his music score during the second movement. Positioned slightly to the left of the leader it was possible to see the face of his score. I started slightly as he turned the page. A nude! Was I seeing correctly?

When the concert and the applause concluded at the end of the evening I leaned across towards Pat, a friend a couple of seats to my right. Had he seen the page in question? No, he hadn’t and what was it I was talking about. I told him. He snorted his derision. Had I been asleep dreaming or was I just obsessed with sex? This was all said within hearing of the surrounding people who were, by now, filing out of the concert. This was getting awkward and repeating my assertion was only going to make it worse. Catherine was looking daggers. Did I have to be embarrassing her too?

Just then I noticed the local music critic, Geoff Fairburn, making his way forward to the stage where the music stands still stood. “Come on,” I asserted, “Geoff Fairburn is going to look at the music.” There was no turning back now. Maybe I had been dreaming. What if I was to be proved wrong?

Geoff was a tall man and needed a walking stick to get about. He leaned across the orchestra pit and, with his walking stick, hooked the violinist's music stand towards the edge of the stage where he could reach the music scores. He turned to me. Was I interested in a particular score? What the hell was it? I made a stab for Schubert and he passed it to me. By now I was surrounded by several of my friends and others who similarly were interested. Like a well-thumbed bodice ripper the score fell open on the page in question. One side of the page had stuck to it a very alluring and full-frontal nude from some magazine. A schoolgirl in the surrounding group shrieked and I snapped it shut and passed it to Geoff to replace on the stand. By now, of course, he was examining the Beethoven score.

We all dispersed. Pat was in the crowd and I made sure that he knew that I hadn’t been dreaming. We discussed the purposes of these supplements to the musical score over coffee and headed to our respective homes and dreams.

A day or two later, Geoff reviewed the concert in the Waikato Times. I paraphrase him. It had been a good concert he maintained; good programme too. The high spot, he said, had been the sweet little bit in the second movement of the Schubert. Only in Hamilton.

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