I suppose it is completely unfair to speculate on the health of the first violinist of the VSO - Dale Barltrop. However, I saw him up close and personal this afternoon in a very good performance of Schubert's Octet. They also did Bartok's 3rd String Quartet, and while that was well done, it wasn't as memorable a performance as the Octet. I'm not sure whether I've seen Schubert's Octet before, though I might have in Chicago. I've seen the Mendelssohn Octet at least once and perhaps twice. I'm about to go see if I have the Schubert on CD, since I'd really like to hear the closing movement again.
Anyway, Dale had some very deep creases in his face and his eyes looked a bit sunken. I had an eerie feeling that I was seeing some major sickness hover over him. My mom said that occasionally she could tell when one of her clients was nearing the end. I definitely hope I am mistaken. What I imagine is that Dale is just greatly overworked (I can relate!) now that he has taken on more responsibilities back in Australia.
To pivot from that, I was overhearing a woman behind me (during the interval only fortunately) with Australian roots. Her family is going through much trauma at the moment, and she feels quite terrible in not being able to reach them. She said it was a bit of a relief just to hear another Australian (Dale doing some intros to the pieces). She later pivoted from the personal to the social and talked a bit about events in her church (a Unitarian one on 49th and Oak). She takes quite an interest, naturally. It really was like walking into a Barbara Pym novel. Despite the overbearing figures (like Hyacinth Bucket), so much of church life is social and would grind to a halt without these largely overlooked women. She actually reminded me a bit of my mother (I imagine they would have gotten on like a house on fire) and that made me just a bit melancholy. Will I ever seriously write out my life story and create a character that does justice to my mother (the way Tremblay has attempted to do with many of his novels and, most overtly, with For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again)? It's starting to look doubtful, though I guess I still have time. I just have to change my priorities.
To tie up several threads, after they announced a minor change in the program (Schulhoff first and then the Bartok), she said something to the effect of "Of course, Bartok was a famous Unitarian." I haven't gotten it quite right, but I found this so droll that I almost burst out laughing. The program really was delightful (and largely made up for the pain of wrapping up my U.S. taxes). I so hope that there isn't anything seriously wrong with Dale Barltrop and that he has many more years ahead of him to devote to entertaining Vancouver audiences.