Confessions of a Philistine

Or, how I learned to love going to see the symphony orchestra

As a guy who is not normally a fan of  symphony music unless there’s a cartoon attached, I was hesitant about inviting my date to see this week’s Victoria Symphony concert in Qualicum Beach. Still, it was a chance to show a touch of class to my lady and besides, when I glanced at the program, I was intrigued.

“Chooi plays Mozart,” I thought. “That might be interesting.”

I got there early and grabbed us good seats, right near the front.

It started well I thought. I quite liked the first piece.

I nudged my partner and leaned closer.

“This is quite lovely, isn’t it?” I suaved. “Breathtaking really.”

She rolled her eyes.

“It hasn’t started yet. They’re warming up,” she said. “They always do that.”


At last the  conductor came on, clad in his tails and then the star of the show appeared, to great applause.

I nudged my partner and leaned closer.

“Is that Chooi? I whispered. “I thought he’d be hairier.”

“Shhh!” she replied. “It’s about to start.”


I have to say, the guy was pretty good. As the second piece began I nudged her and leaned closer.

“Awesome fiddling, eh?” I whispered.

“He’s not fiddling and that’s not a fiddle,” she growled softly. “He’s leading an entire orchestra on a $4.2 million violin.”


Clearly she was entranced by the music. If I were going to insert myself into this date, I’d have to act fast. Maybe humour …?

I nudged my partner and leaned closer.

“He’s not really playing it, you know,” I whispered. “There’s a little crank on the side!”

“Shhhh!” she shushed.

“Right.” I said.

Chooi played on and my partner, eyes closed, was clearly moved.

Maybe debonair?

I nudged my partner and leaned closer.

“I think his apeggio’s a little flat,” I whispered knowledgeably.

“There’s no such thing as an apeggio,” she hissed. “It’s arpeggio — and he’s not playing one and even if he was it wouldn’t be flat! Now please, I’m trying to listen!”


I settled back, defeated, to watch the orchestra and it soon dawned on me that the conductor in his tails with his back to me kind of looked like a giant beetle.

I nudged my partner and leaned closer. She nudged me back — hard.


The music went on and on and soon I, too, was transported.

“Not good,” I thought, looking around the hall. “What if the auditorium were to be attacked by, say,  giant beetle people right now? There’s nowhere to hide. I suppose I could bolt for the stage and climb up those curtains back there … oh, have to save the girlfriend I guess. Who the heck designed this place anyway? Mind you, if I did escape somehow, there’s a whole lot of jewelry down here and … hey, stop that mister! You’re a good guy — can’t be looting the dead …”

As we strolled the Civic Centre parking lot later, my partner fairly gushed.

“Wasn’t he amazing?” she asked.

“Oh yes, I was swept away,” I replied. “Absolutely swept away.”


— Neil Horner is assistant editor of The News. He likes cartoons.



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