Michael Houston is an excellent New Zealand concert pianist who has had a long and illustrious career. Many years ago I went to listen to him play in the Exhibition hall at 'Forum North', Whangarei s' very own multipurpose venue. I will never know why the concert was held in the Exhibition Hall, the floor of which is as flat as Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The Capitaine Bouganville Theatre which is very close within the same venue is a purpose built performance theatre where many fine musical performances have taken place.
The result of using the Exhibition hall was that when everyone sat down no one could see the players except for those in the audience in the first few rows of seating.
But when the performance began with great ravishing crescendos on the piano, the violins answered in unison to this provocation - and that unison became the spectacle - the top two thirds of a sea of violin bows suddenly made their appearance, changing altitude, angel and velocity like so many swarming northern swallows in a pre - migratory dance.
I well remember my reaction. I thought that for the price of the ticket I could have purchased a tape or CD of Michael Houstons' piano playing and listened to it add infinitum. I wasn't impressed at all.
The memory of that occasion welled up into my consciousness today as I thought of my schools recent swimming sports. The whole school sat at ground level while each class in turn performed or raced in the pool which is raised off the ground a meter or more. It had been raining and they were sitting on tarpaulins under big outdoor tent shelters. It was amazing how well behaved they were considering the fact that all they could see were furtive swimming arms being raised out of the water like so many uncoordinated violin bows. Even when they all stood up it was only the front rows that were able to get a good view of the swimming. But they all yelled and cheered and generally had a good time - Similar situations, different reactions.