Fun in Rochester: Saturday Night with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

You might think that after spending the morning at a farmers market, then jumping on a giant pillow, then spending six hours at an amusement park, that we would just decide it was time for bed. You underestimate us, my friend. Because we had also scored some super-cool tickets that we couldn’t possibly pass up with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

But before I tell you about that, we had to refuel before the concert, so we asked around until someone pointed us to Golden Port Dim Sum, just down the street from Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. They had a variety of Asian foods. Cute W was very excited to get the girls trying some of his favorite dim sum, like roast pork buns, and I thought sticky rice might be a hit. These arrived first, and the girls eyed them suspiciously, tasted a bit of each, and yawned. I believe at this point J crawled into my lap. M moaned that what we really, really needed was a sofa. We were tired. But they perked up considerably when two favorites arrived at our table: fried pork dumplings and Thai-style yellow curry with chicken. Yum, yum.

We were revived! It was all tasty and the server was friendly. We felt a bit bad for them because people kept showing up for sushi and apparently the sushi chef was on vacation. We were happy to stick with Chinese and Thai and ignore Japanese food altogether.

Nothing like eating way too much deliciousness to make you decide that you need a little something sweet. So between the restaurant and the theatre, we ducked into Java’s Cafe in search of dessert. Holy deliciousness. I am not even kidding. When it comes to baked goods, I’m a bit of a snob. I won’t participate in cookie exchanges, and I find that most bakeries and pastry shops don’t make anything that I feel is quite worth wasting all those calories on. Oh, but this was so very different.

We got three items to share among all of us–the girls each got a pick, and then the grown-ups picked one. J is a sucker for rhubarb, so she went for the slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie (she pretty much always swallows her Rs and they disappear, so it’s very funny when she tells people that one of her favorite desserts are my rhubarb bars and they have no idea what she’s saying); M, child after my own heart, went for the mini mint-chocolate cake, and I picked a flowerless chocolate cookie to represent the adults. Each item was delightful, from flaky crust to mint buttercream frosting to chewy and meringue-like chocolatey cookie. It was a little bit like how each of your children is so different and at the same time so very loved for his or her unique attributes. We were too full to finish entirely, and the next day, when I found a half-crumbled chocolate cookie in my backpack pocket, I didn’t tell a soul and I ate it all by myself.

By this time, we had to hurry, because it was almost 7 pm and time for Pirates of the Caribbean on the big screen with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra playing the entire movie score. Here’s a picture I took very hurriedly before the movie could start and/or an usher could tell me to stop taking pictures:


It was awesome. The girls had never seen the movie before, and this was the perfect “gateway drug” to a real classical music performance, because you could watch the movie for plot, and then between scenes the music would swell and we’d be all, holy cow, that orchestra is still playing. The music was excellent and loud and dramatic, and having it following right along with a plot helped the kids, I think, to make a connection to the narrative power of instrumental music. Does that sound silly? Beyond some dabbling in chorus, I don’t know much about music myself, so this was an excellent event for me, too. In fact, I had to chuckle when I read in the program that the Music Director said, “We have designed programs that are interesting and engaging for all people, so that even those who are not necessarily interested in music will come to our concerts.” I love that. I mean, we are interested in music, but it’s intimidating to take kids to see an orchestra, because you have no idea if they’ll be engaged with it or bored and eye-rolling or worse, borderline rude and irritating everyone else. But we love pirates! They even did a whole set of activities for little kids before the concert, and some ushers and concert-goers were in costume. The activities were for younger kids, and we were a bit too caught up in eating, but M did get a temporary skull-and-crossbones tattoo because the volunteer who offered to apply it was a girl who looked to be about four years old. “How could I say no?” M smiled, enjoying her status as gracious and compliant big girl. Altogether, it felt super-welcoming to families. They have a series of other family concerts called OrKIDstra, too.

The only problem was at the very end–the film was over, and of course the score is designed to continue through every. last. credit. And then everybody else in the theater–who clearly hadn’t spent six hours at an amusement park–was clapping through a long standing ovation while both of my children looked like they might possibly pass out from sheer exhaustion. I mean I literally was afraid that one of them would fall and smack her head on an armrest and get a concussion or something. But you can understand, right, why we simply had to go? And even though we’d sort of dragged them there (because they were voting for bed), they both agreed that going was absolutely the right choice.

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