Home for Christmas - Pt 6- The Concert.
Weighing the baby
From the mouths of children.
‘She’s gained a half ounce, and that’s quite respectable,’ said Dr. Gallagher. 'Mom here is feeding her every 2 hours and she might cry for the occasional supplemental bottle. Because sometimes she may be too tired to take enough from Mom. I hope to send her home by the 26th if she keeps feeding well.’
Grandma and the grandchildren had been introduced, and Dr. Gallagher was plied with questions about discharge for mother and baby. ‘Yes, she’s doing great. She’s responsive to people. She loves time with her mother, she’s feeding well. We just have to let her grow, and she’ll do that with food and rest and being held. Mom can stay in the nursery with her as long as she wants, not just at feeding time. And no, Paul, you have to wait till she’s home before you hold her. Babies can catch germs so easily. Yes, I come to see her every day, she’s special, and I would even if she were not.’ Then Yves asked, ‘Why is she special?’
‘She, ah, she just is.’ And he turned and saw both Renee and Don looking at him fixedly. ‘Well, I must go see some of my other patients. See you tomorrow.’
‘Well, that was abrupt. Wonder what’s the matter with the boy,’ Grandma said.
Leonie piped up, ‘He likes Fleur that’s why, but he’s too shy about it.'
'Leonie!' Fleur hissed.
'Well, if you asked me,' said Leonie primly.
Grandma whispered, 'From the mouths of children...'
The Christmas Concert
The next two days passed quickly, Don coming and going between the hospital and home, and Grandma and Fleur taking charge of the kitchen and all the Christmas preparations. The packages under the tree piled up quickly, each person adding his share with pride. Christmas CDs played most of the day, and they all gathered for family time in the den after dinner.
Paul’s concert came round. They had early dinner and Fleur dropped Paul at school. He changed out of his sweater and jeans into a white shirt and grey slacks, a striped tie and dark grey blazer and looked very smart indeed. His longish brown hair was given some semblance of order with a lick of spit and that was that, he thought. His choir master was making the rounds of the lockers, giving encouragement here, pulling straight a tie there, and trying to still the children’s nerves.
The choir girls were in their locker room, under the eyes of the prefect. They were twittering in their nervousness, several of them proclaiming they could not remember the words of this or that song. ‘It’s okay,’ chided the prefect. ‘Just make like you know them and look intelligent!‘
‘Oh, right! Look intelligent, girls, that’s all. It’s only the mayor and your parents out there.‘ This from Lisa Jones, the lead soprano. ‘Oh, excuse me, I’m just going to chunder,’ swore Mamie. ‘Eww, make way. She had tomato sauce at dinner!’
At 6.30pm the children assembled backstage. The audience was still dribbling in, looking for seats as close to the stage as they could find. The Easton group had seated themselves since 6 pm, Don and Fleur flanking Grandma who was looking splendid in her cream lace Valentino and a brown mohair coat, her silver hair in a smart chignon. Fleur was very proud of her Grandma.
At 7 sharp, the orchestra started, and the chorus filed in, placed in their respective voice order, highest to lowest from left to right. When all was quiet, ‘Please rise for the National Anthem,’ was announced by the choirmaster. All stood to attention and the pure voice of a boy soprano rang out in praise, singing a capella. He was joined in the chorus by an alto singing in harmony. The other voices in the choir joined them for the final verse. It was an arrangement never before heard by anybody there, and there was a thunderous applause when it ended. ‘Paul, that was Paul, he never told us he was singing the anthem. Oh that was beautiful,’ Fleur whispered. Don’s eyes were misty.
The Choir filed out and the choirmaster announced, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have arranged a treat of Rodgers and Hammersteins’ musical numbers for you tonight. This most influential, successful and innovative of American musical-theater writing teams collaborated to produce eleven award-winning musicals. Five of them were outstanding successes, and tonight we’re presenting our selections from those five musicals So sit back and enjoy.
The Concert - Rodgers and Hammerstein
In came a troupe of girls and boys to center stage, and the orchestra struck the opening bars of ‘Getting to Know You.‘ As the singers were getting towards the last line, another group of six came on stage and arranged themselves as the first segued off the stage, the lights dimmed and the orchestra slowed and went into the intro for ‘I Have Dreamed’. The lights brightened and the choir poured their hearts out in that sad duet of lovers who were not free to love: Lun Tha and Tuptim, slaves of the Siamese King.
The numbers followed one another seamlessly through the show, featuring favorite songs from the five musicals. After ‘The King and I’ came ‘South Pacific’ with ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘There is Nothing like a Dame’, and ‘I’m Gonna Wash that Man right outa my Hair’. The children and teens sang in the various different voices, some solos, some duets, some choral, and combinations of soprano, alto, tenor and bass.
The audience was mesmerised by the show; they had never expected something of this caliber. Songs from ‘Sound of Music’, ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘Carousel’ followed and when Paul stood in the center and belted out,’ You’ll Never Walk Alone’, he nearly brought the house down. He sang it mostly to his Grandma and she dabbed her eyes several times. The show ended with a girl soprano and a bass singing ‘If I loved you’ from Carousel.
When they took their bows, the audience went wild and would not stop clapping till they came back to sing ‘The Lonely Goatherd’, because that used all the voices of the ensemble. There was a collective ‘Wow’ when that ended.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have enjoyed performing for such an appreciative audience tonight, so we have a little footnote here for you,’ announced the choirmaster.
Oh Holy Night
He once more raised his baton towards the choir, silence ensued, then Paul and a girl soprano broke it with that most beloved carol, ‘O Holy Night.’ All the voices joined in the chorus, so that the crescendo at the ending bars brought the house down. Then they quickly broke into ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’.
The choirmaster thanked all the parents, families and friends who came out on such a cold night to celebrate the Christmas Season with them and for supporting the fund-raiser for the choral society. ‘I promised the children that this would be a very short speech, and so I wish you all good night and a Merry Christmas.‘
‘Merry Christmas!’ shouted back the audience, and filed out, chatting and greeting friends and collecting their various offspring.