Well, maybe concerts is the wrong word, but they were more than recitals.

The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival is far more than creative writing class, though that’s what I have been blogging about for the last couple of weeks. There are classes in all kinds of music, dance and art as well as a few things such as clothing design less suited for public performance, and the final weekend is crowded with events, some of which are good enough to charge for attending. As a Festival participant I can get free tickets for a lot more of these events than I have time to attend, and I spent last Saturday afternoon and evening taking advantage of those free tickets.

First was the opera/musical theater scenes. These were costumed and lightly staged (chairs, tables, portable props but no scenery.) We have a new opera company in Fairbanks, and a musical theater group that puts on two shows a year, but I can’t drive in the dark so I rarely get to see them. This was a wonderful treat for me, lasting close to two hours, with some beautiful singing from Festival participants.

Later in the afternoon was the dancing. Considering the role dancing plays in my fiction, I don’t get much chance to see live dancing. Oh, The Nutcracker is put on locally every Christmas but I have no way of getting to it, since winter performances almost always let out after dark. (I do have three DVD’s of Nutcracker performances, not counting the Suite in Fantasia.)

I did take ballet and tap lessons as a child, but in retrospect I suspect that was a desperate attempt by my parents to do something about my lack of coordination. (It didn’t work.) And about the only thing I remember about the recitals was that my parents made me drink coffee to stay awake. (I still hate coffee.)

But I love to watch dancing, even if it is generally confined to PBS and DVDs. And this recital was definitely worth watching.

Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Swing, Tap, Ballroom and Middle Eastern classes performed and enchanted me. Two things I couldn’t help noticing. First, the participants were generally young. Part of this is undoubtedly because dancing stresses the body, and older bodies simply run out of the ability to perform. Second, there was a distinct lack of male dancers. I saw one in a number of groups who was very good – but with the number of androgynous names today, I couldn’t be sure who he was. Total? Two or three males out of a stage full of dancers.

Anyway I enjoyed it enough to order the DVD – though I suspect the intended buyers were mostly the proud relatives of the dancers.

Finally, after supper at Wolf Run and a tour of the watercolors, sketches, and clothing in the art gallery, I went to the orchestra concert. Again, I was amazed by the quality of the performance. These musicians had less than two weeks to rehearse pieces some of them had never seen before, with a strange conductor (Robert Franz.) Many had never met before Festival. The program started with Mendelssohn’s Calm and Prosperous Voyage. Then two of our guest artists, Routa Kroumovitch Gomez on violin and Alvero Gomez on viola, played in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola. Jaunelle Celaire and JR Fralick sang selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn, each song preceded by a translation of the German words so we had some idea of what we were listening to. The performance wound up with a wonderful rendition of Prokofiev’s Symphony no 5.

I didn’t get home until almost 11 pm, and since it was a cloudy day, I’m glad the sun wasn’t any lower. Wonder if I can arrange transportation to the symphony concerts and Nutcracker this winter?