My fabulous neighbor Peter gave us KILLER box seats to the symphony tonight, which featured the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzbug. They put on a lovely show with two pieces by Mozart, a piano concerto and the “Prague” symphony. Also performed was Beethoven’s Fourth. To my surprise, I couldn’t find a website for the organization.

This was the third or fourth event I’ve attended in Benaroya Hall, and certainly the first for which I was able to enjoy the excellent view from the low balcony.

An interesting aspect of the show was the very expressive performances of the individual players in the orchestra; I think they’d been encouraged to move around with the music. It added a pleasant dimension to the show.

A highlight was the very audible groaning basson-call of someone releasing gas from their intestinal tract during a quiet passage of one of the pieces. It threw my wife into a helpless fit of giggles which she very bravely kept silent. Another was an older gentlemen in the restroom, baffled by the lack of knobs on the sinks. “How the hell do you turn this thing on?” he appealed grouchily. Several people told him that you just put your hands under it, and all the men waiting in line for the urinal had a hearty chuckle at the codger’s expense.

This weekend we paid another visit to a museum, as well: the Burke Museum on the grounds of the University of Washington. The Burke has one of the world’s greatest collections of northwestern Native American art and artifacts, but sadly, not as much of it was on display as I would have liked.

Here’s a VR tour.

On the first floor there were two exhibits. One on the geological and biological history of Washington state features dino skellys and a very cool mastodon skeleton. A bonus was a very knowledgeable elderly docent named Everett Thykens (I think) who regaled us with elephant, mammoth, and mastodon facts including this bit of new-to-me data: once, there were pygmy elephants in Sicily and southern Italy, but the Romans wiped them out.

The other upstairs exhibit is called “the Big One” and it’s about our recent (last year) major earthquake, the history of quakes in the Seattle and Pacific regions, and earthquake safety. It’s a small exhibit, but it rocked, no pun intended. The single artifact on display is a van which was crushed by falling bricks in the 2001 quake, and (since we were fortunate enough to only have a few cars crushed and I think no fatalities) it acheived some media fame; walking in to see the van was indescribably cool. The van is the single most recognizable symbol of the event.

Adding to the beauty of the exhibit is the fact that nearly everyone who walks into it was in the quake; so pretty much everyone starts telling each other their quake stories the second they walk in. The tiny space was full of excited happy people sharing their own stories of not being crushed.

Downstairs was a big ol’ family-of-man type exhibit, emphasizing cultural rituals of ethnicities who have settled in Washington state or are native to it. Or maybe it was more Pacific Rim cultures, come to think of it.

Anyway, my favorite was these incredibly elaborate New Year rockets from Laos. They are Flash Gordon fireworks!

The Burke also has a small cafe on the lower floor which is paneled in unpainted, elaborately carved wood panels made in France in the early 1700’s. It makes for a lovely room, and I’m sure if I go to grad school at UW, I’ll be studying there frequently.

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