There was a magical, lit-up wonderland feel to those holiday trips into Pittsburgh. New Year’s Eve would often include snow, almost always brought sub-freezing temperatures, and nearly every year, the trip down to Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh’s ornate showplace, to see the Duquesne University Tamburitzans.
It was a world of magic to a young boy. This dance and music company was composed primarily of students who were of Slavic or Middle European ancestry, for this was the type of music which they played and danced to. Colorful vibrant costumes and fast-paced melody filled the palatial music hall, reflecting and reverberating all of the immense crystal chandeliers. It was a glorious, festive affair, and even if one was not old enough, parents would share some of the wine they were drinking. It was, after all, a holiday tradition.
Does it still exist? I don’t know, but in ethnically diverse western Pennsylvania, it was an annual event for us, as it was for lots of others.
Fast forward to a wind-swept Amarillo night, temperature again below freezing, early in December instead of the last night of the year, still a Christmas card scene of lights and color. Here may lie the beginning of a new holiday entertainment tradition, as more than three decades after the last time I saw the Tamburitzans, we climb out of the van with tickets for the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
I do not completely understand how we came by these tickets for a show that has been sold out for a while. Many p eople were involved, along with an unusual chain of events. I do not question this. The Divine One answers prayers. …
The blending of heavy metal, classical Christmas songs, narrated story line and choreographed drama — well, there’s just no way to categorize it. I have the CD, and I have listened to it, and I love it, but the stage show was an entirely different experience. You are so swept into the artistically constructed world that, like a few other events I have been to — Tamburitzans for one — it is not a concert so much as it is an experience. Yes, there is Christmas music and, yes, there is drama interpretation of a story line and, yes, there is rock blended with classical and, yes, there are special effects. But the total is more than the sum of the parts.
I don’t want to ruin it for you, if this titillates you enough to make you want to get tickets for next year’s show. Anyway, if I try to describe the experience for you, it would be about as successful as describing whitewater rafting. You gotta do it to get it. There’s no question it would not be for everybody — obviously, if you dislike heavy metal, or classical, or Christmas music, you probably will come away with less raving than I have been doing. Nonetheless, you would probably enjoy the blend even if these were not your favorite things, so long as you liked them OK.
Hey, holiday should include some special, fantasy type entrances into another world. I learned that when I was a kid and my parents took me to the Tamburitzans. How nice to feel that magical experience again, after all these years.