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Weekend Life

Tales from the Motherhood: Fox Valley Orchestra outing provides delightful evening

I’m a hummer. I hum the theme to “Mission Impossible” whenever I’m trying to conjure the mojo to bust through a snowdrift in my Subaru or get out the door on time, and recently I hummed Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.” Or so I thought.

“Mom, that’s Beethoven,” Noah retorted.

“Whatever. Wanna go?” I asked, as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky no doubt rolled-over in their graves. I was excited to see Holly’s piano teacher in action last weekend at the Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles and hoped he would join me.

Teresa Muir, her teacher, a flutist with the Fox Valley Orchestra, was slated to play not only the flute, but the piccolo and the gong during the FVO’s performance Saturday night – and yes, I was taking yet another shameless stab at perpetrating culture on my kids. What on earth was I thinking? So, I did what I always do. I hummed.  Mission Impossible, this time, but it didn’t work – he wasn’t game, even after we dined accompanied by an old YouTube video of Leonard Bernstein passionately conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra as they performed Tchaikovsky’s No. 5. Go figure.

But Holly was, and so was her buddy Alana and Alana’s mom. We had a truly delightful evening.
We were really impressed with the performance but it seems we were more fascinated with ‘orchestra protocol’ than with anything else. Like about how the violinists don’t appear to play second-fiddle in an orchestra.

They get the best seats – and there seem to be a lot of them. And the ‘team captain’ (sorry, but I’m a soccer-mom) or ‘concertmaster’ is always a violinist. No offense to violinists, but why not a tuba player? How ‘bout they all take turns leading the warm-up (pre-performance tuning)? Just a thought. It also seems that all members of an orchestra are required to wear black, but Mrs. Muir explained to us after the performance that this allows the audience to focus solely on the music.

It’s amazing what kids notice – though Holly seemed most taken with the performers’ facial expressions. Yeah, I get that.

Another thing we discovered? Clapping between ‘movements’ (sections of a piece) is verboten. We decided we don’t care for that rule, though. We’re clappers. But these musicians are real pros. I don’t think they’d have noticed if we had. In fact, not one of them flinched or dropped a bow when, upon being startled by a sudden uptempo in the first piece, I lost my grasp on my tiny tin of Altoids, which tumbled out of my lap and clattered onto the floor.

Yeah, Mrs. Muir, that was me. Criminy, Holly can’t take me anywhere. 

For more infomation about the Fox Valley Orchestra’s 2012-13 season or to purchase tickets, visit or call 630-891-2525.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband and their two children. Contact her at

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