Concert had harmonious effect

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 19, 2002

During the last two weekends I was determined to spend time attending very good events without a pad and pencil to write on the event or going to the News-Herald office.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, I attended

Norfolk State University’s Homecoming game at its new stadium.

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On Sunday, Nov. 17, the steady downpour of rain had no bearing on my co-worker, me and about 8,000 other Roberta Flack fans attending her concert at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk.

Flack was scheduled to perform with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at 6:30 p.m. Promptly, at 6:15 p.m. Roseann Runte, president of ODU, unveiled a sculpture of Tom Constant to the audience, and VIPs on the ground floor of the concert hall lifted their glasses in a toast to the occasion. Promptly at 6:30 p.m. the Virginia Symphony was introduced and began the program its hour-long classical music concert.

Seldom do I have the opportunity of attending a program that includes classical music; but I was fascinated by the sounds that many musicians can produce when they come together as one in an orchestra. After the 15-minute intermission when the symphony performed with Flack, she came to the stage with a short rendition of &uot;The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.&uot; The orchestra then produced a different sound of soul, and jazz music or whatever her choice of a song called for. Since Donny Hathaway and Peabo Bryson, her duet singers in many of her hits, weren’t on hand to perform with her, she made a good selection in her choice of Andre’ Smith, who stepped in for them. If you closed your eyes and listened, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference in his taking their places.

Flack interacted with the audience and added a little comedy to her performance during her hour and a half concert.

&uot;When Janet Jackson asks the audience to sing along with her she uses the phrase, ‘You sing,’&uot; said Flack. After singing a verse of one of her hits, she then asked the audience to do the same.

In another joking manner Flack said, &uot;I’m going to sing a hit from one of my new albums that I made seven years ago.&uot; The audience broke out in a roar. That hit was entitled, &uot;Killing Me Softly With His Songs.&uot;

Flack complained often about static that she was witnessing throughout her performance, constantly fidgeting with the microphone box hooked onto her clothing near her lower back that helped to produce a good sound. She also kept complaining about static that she kept hearing throughout her concert. It was obvious that she probably thought that the box had something to do with the static and she was trying to fix it. &uot;I must be aging gracefully because 15 years ago if I had heard the static that I hear today I would not do the concert,&uot; she said.

She was sitting on the piano when she made this statement and all of a sudden a man appeared from the right of the stage to attempt to fix the problem with the box at her back. Flack felt his hands there and said, without even a warning to anyone, &uot;I think that someone is trying to change my drawers. I shouldn’t have said that because he looks embarrassed.&uot; The crowd roared with laughter once more.

She sang a few more hits composed by other singers, one by the late Marvin Gaye, &uot;What’s Going On.&uot; She ended the concert with the completed version of &uot;The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,&uot; saying , &uot;You sing,&uot; to the audience to help her end the song with the last three phrases: &uot;your face, your face, your face.&uot;

The evening was a spectacular one; but if I have to think about the pros and cons, they would be after the program was over.

The concert was the four flights of stairs that we had to climb to get to the concert hall to our seats and the two flights of stairs that we then had to climb to get to our car in the parking garage across the street from the Convocation Center after it was over. The pro was that I kept up with my party who seemed to glide like acrobats taking the stairs and was surprised that I wasn’t even out of breath. I had expected to be after I had received the bad news from my doctor last week that I had gained 10 pounds since my last appointment during the summer.

Speaking of weight gained from attending numerous past banquets, that is one thing that I had not intended to do this weekend. However, I was surprised at the response that I received on my last column pertaining to banquets.

I asked some of these persons if I could use their statements; all agreed, but wanted to remain anonymous. One lady said, &uot;Mrs. Wall, I appreciated the column, but you should have added the statement that everyone being honored no matter who it is should at least get to the banquet on time because in many instances that is why the event is starting late anyway. One way to avoid being late is to make sure that you don’t plan to attend more than one event on the day that you are being honored. &uot;

Another woman said to me on Monday morning, &uot;Someone must had read your column on banquets last week because I attended a banquet last weekend and the dinner was right there at the top portion of the program. However, it was raining cats and dogs and getting foggy when we arrived and

I didn’t want to travel back home in dangerous weather. Therefore, after dinner my party and I left to go home,&uot; she said.

I appreciate the comments and welcome them no matter how critical or agreeable. Sponsors, don’t take this weekend’s actions to heart if someone did leave early during your event. Place the blame on the condition of the weather and not that you didn’t really have your program together.

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.