Saturday evening Ken and I got to experience one of our most favorite summer activities: going to hear the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center, their summer home. The orchestra offered Gershwin and Brahms for our enjoyment and Mother Nature offered up a perfect evening of cool, dry air with the slightest breeze…crystal clear hearing and viewing.
Over the years we have been to many outdoor orchestra sites: Ravinia, SPAC, Newport, and Tanglewood; just off the top of my head, but none can hold a candle to Blossom.
The music pavilion structure is situated in a natural, shallow bowl in the woods at the top of one of the edges of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The shelter takes up about half of the site with the rest of the circle a sloping lawn that allows everyone a clear line-of-sight directly to the stage. The acoustics are phenomenal… no sense of amplification.
Blossom was opened my junior year in high school about 10 minutes from my family home. I still remember the first concert: Earth, Wind & Fire. The managers of the site had no idea what to expect so they didn’t limit tickets…and, as a consequence were completely overrun…they were hauling kids out of the surrounding woods for a week or more!
So many concerts as I grew up, dated, married, went to college, married, began a career, married… But, no matter where I lived, or who I've been with, I’ve always made it home for at least one Blossom concert every summer.
As I sat there Saturday night acknowledging the blessing of this glorious place, all the ghosts of memories wandered in and out of my conciousness…
I remember two nights in a row with the Fifth Dimension because I wanted to go out with both the guys who knew I liked the group and thought they were doing something nice for me...
I remember the uptight, conservative airline pilot date who insisted on getting seats under the roof of the pavilion… what earthly fun is that??? The lawn is where the fun is!
I remember concerts and not rock concerts,either, general pop-type music, where I could get high just walking through the lawn seating. …(As Ken says: Remember when drugs were fun and sex couldn’t kill you?)
I remember performing at Porthouse the professional summer theater on the grounds of Blossom and listening for the applause from over the hill… it meant time to grab your car keys and get the H out of the place whether your makeup was off or not… otherwise, you were stuck in a 10,000 car traffic jam…
I remember nights so hot and muggy that I wondered how the sound of the music even made it to us out on the lawn… and, I remember nights like Saturday, clear and cool oases in a long, humid summer…
I remember long lines for the (count ‘em) eight stalls in the original women’s restroom meant to serve 20,000 attendees…that is until the women rebelled one night and took over all the restrooms, not letting the men in until they were finished.
I remember taking my in-laws there for a picnic and concert on the lawn when they drove up from southern Ohio one summer… a family affair with Ken’s son in attendance… another gorgeous evening…perfect…. 7 days before my mother-in-law discovered she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The last carefree, peaceful time we all had with her as a family.
I remember elaborate picnic dinners that looked like a formal table and had as many courses as the most royal meal… and, I remember buckets of chicken and bags of potato chips.
I remember sitting properly in folding chairs, as attentive to Lorin Maazel or Christoph von Dohnanyi as the first chair violin and I remember lying on a pile of blankets, wrapped up in my companion’s arms looking at the stars overhead while the music washed over us.
So, as my husband sat there fussing because the tree frogs were drowning out the music and he could hear the people around him whispering, I told him heartlessly to stuff it…
If you want to hear the music, go to Severance in the winter, Blossom is a social experience… and I bless it for holding some of the most wonderful memories of my life.