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Recipe for A Wonderful Weekend: Good Music, Great Food, Martinis, and The Right Field Trip Buddy

I had a wonderful weekend, and hope you did, too! 

The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus held their annual Holiday Concert at the Ted Mann Concert Hall this weekend and I had the pleasure of attending, not only the concert, but the after show celebration at the Downtown Minneapolis Hilton Garden Inn, as well.  I had a great time at both.   More on that later…

'Star of Wonder', TCGMC's holiday offering
It turned out to be a weekend filled with wonderful food, great company, and several marvelous martinis.
It was also filled with the kind of companionship I have always dreamed of.  My new ‘person of interest’ and I have been defining ourselves as ‘Field Trip Buddies’, though this weekend the term ‘boyfriend’, referring to yours truly, was used on several occasions (fingers crossed). 

Me?  Oh, hell yeah, I’m stupidly smitten, of course.  This dude is pretty much every fantasy/ romantic notion my 18 year-old self ever concocted.   Seriously, every treacle-filled, gooey infused love ballad I hear causes the corners of my eyes to brim with tears of joy these days; every day feels like I’m going to the prom on the arm of my dream date.  I truly could not be happier with the way things are going.

I fully recognize that we are still in the infatuation phase, but I have been very realistic and pragmatic about it as well; checking in with him periodically to see how he’s feeling about things, voicing my concerns, while communicating exactly how grateful I am for the time I get to spend with him.  We have a lot in common and I’m excited to see where this all might be headed.  Living with a sense of hope is an amazing feeling (and something I am not used to).

Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus
The most amazing thing for me?  I’ve never been more honest.  It feels damn good.  In fact, I can’t get over all the positive changes I’ve made in my life and the change in my outlook and general being. 

Matt Alber
My family?  They are still experiencing a kind of emotional whiplash, in light of the change in status of my 17 year relationship with my business partner.  I did my best to break the news as gently and slowly as possible, but apparently more time and reassurance is needed. 

You see, I have a history of sort of rebooting my life without warning.  Those kinds of ‘turn on a dime’ logistics tend to make others a tad leery, as they worry about my sanity, health, and well-being.  They also need time to adjust. 

My mother, for instance, is terribly worried that I will run off and abandon her and my father in North Minneapolis.  But she needn’t worry. 

For a change, I am actually giving everyone’s concerns credence and ample attention.  I no longer wish to be careless with people, as I cherish the relationships I have, including the one I enjoy with my business partner.   I’m doing all I can to ensure that everyone is as happy for me as I am happy.

One of the changes they are all struggling with?  I’m not sitting on my couch anymore.  I am actually going out and doing things – going to museums, concerts, restaurants, bars, tarot card readings, game nights, movie nights, parties, and the like. 

This weekend I got to see the Twin Cities Men’s Chorus with special guest artist Matt Alber. 

It was a lot of fun.  The Ted Mann Concert Hall is a great venue and TCGMC put it to good use.  The staging, overall, was very well done.  Stars, which hung overhead on stage, served as the overall theme for the evening, with many of the songs making reference to them.  It made for a pleasant evening, as the program featured a plethora of familiar seasonal tunes.

However, not all was well.  Problems within the choir became glaringly apparent by the fourth number, a superb arrangement of ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’, as director Dr. Ben Riggs failed to reign in his singers or achieve the type of balance necessary to pull off such a striking take on this familiar holiday favorite.  Pitch prob
Dr. Ben Riggs, Director
lems also plagued this particular number.

Based on what I witnessed, what may be at the root of the balance issue lies with the choir’s lack of attention paid to their director.  Many of the singers, excited by the prospects of opening night, tended to have their eyes glued forward, playing to the audience and rarely checking in with their director.  That style of presentation works in small ensembles, like a glee club, but this is a large choir and it was clear throughout the night, that Riggs did not have proper control over his singers, as the issue of balance raised havoc with a couple of the selections.

However, the choir redeemed themselves a number of times throughout the evening.  When they were on, such as their backing of 'Ave Maria', their sound was stellar, solid, and fully realized.  By the second half of the program, this wealth of sound became more the norm. 

Unsurprisingly, I had little patience for the novelty choreography that populated a few of the numbers, nor did I care much for the small ensemble group, OUTLOUD!, who performed two numbers – the first, an unlistenable mess.  I can’t imagine this particular grouping of singers sustaining a whole evening of song.   The featured soloists were also a mixed bag.  Several of them possessed nice voices, but were obviously in need of a bit more coaching. 

Small Ensemble, OUTLOUD!
Special guest, Matt Alber proved to be a great match for TCGMC.  He opened solo, in front of a scrim, with a Joni Mitchell tune in a key not suited for his lovely, warm voice.  That fact became even more apparent once he sang one of his signature tunes, ‘Velvet Goldmine’, which found him in great form.  His overall affect was downhome and approachable throughout the evening, adding a great deal of warmth to the proceedings. 

The highlight of Matt’s contributions came in the second half of the evening, when he sang a very interesting arrangement featuring Bette Midler’s staple, ‘The Rose’  sung atop  the choir singing ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Bloom’.  Had that been Matt’s final contribution, the evening would have ended on a spectacular high. 

Unfortunately, Mr. Alber has a fancy for gospel (?) or at least what he apparently thinks passes for gospel.  A rather ill-advised arrangement of ‘O Holy Night’, significantly marred by some rather awkward vocal runs by Matt, made for a disappointing end to the whole affair.  (Mr Alber?  Gospel is NOT your thing.  So stop doing that, okay?)

Overall, I sure am glad I got to see this concert.  And I have it on good authority that by the Sunday Matinee, the choir had settled in, giving their best performance of the run.

I got to meet Matt Alber at the closing night party. That was kind of a letdown, as is meeting most of the performers I admire.  My few words of praise regarding his most famous composition, ‘End of the World’ seemed to fall on deaf ears and didn’t even warrant so much as a thank you (though he mumbled something about letting his people know).  Maybe he was tired (or tired of people complimenting him for that song).  Although Matt sure seemed to muster up enough energy to hang on every word spoken by the cute twink who was talking to him before me.   Hmmm.  (Et tu, Matt?)

In any event, I had a truly marvelous weekend.  And that happiness managed to spill over to the next day.  Even with the snow and the bitter temperatures this morning (on a Monday, no less), I found myself sitting in my frozen car exclaiming aloud, ‘What a wonderful world this is!’

And the amazing thing?

I honestly meant it. 

Field Trip Buddy - Matt Alber

Velvet Goldmine - Matt Alber

Silent Night - TCGMC (2011)


O!Daddie now at said...

So VERY pleased for you!! Enjoy what it is for as long as it is and stop over-analyzing!!!

whkattk said...

I am honestly happy for you! You've given yourself a great gift: Opening your heart to the wonders of a relationship. Going in with your eyes wide open and no expectations is not only wise, it's what helps relationships last! Bravo!!!

BlkJack said...

I am over joyed with happiness for you. Happy Holidays!