This afternoon I went to the First United Methodist Church of Eugene and listened to their May performance of their "First Concert" series.
Rita and I went together. She invited me because one of the pieces in the first half of the concert featured her daughter, Annalisa Morton as the oboe soloist, playing Alexandre Guilmant's Cantilène Pastorale for oboe and organ.
As I listened to Annalisa play, I traveled back in time to a very small secret life I led in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho at North Idaho College.
Back then, when the Spokane Symphony performed in the Fox Theater, North Idaho College students could get really inexpensive tickets to the symphony. The ones I bought came through being a member of the North Idaho College choir. I went to symphony concerts, not knowing much about the symphony, but I loved it whenever the bassoon was featured. I already had fallen in love with the oboe because we had oboe players in the Kellogg High School band, but I was not so familiar with the bassoon.
My sophomore year at NIC, I became really serious about my studies and became a library rat. Somehow, I discovered that the library had a record album collection and that I could check out records, be issued headphones, and go to a turntable, and listen to music while I read -- mostly assignments for Miss Tinsley's "Modern Writers and What They're Saying" course.
Today, listening to Annalisa play her oboe, I was reminded of how I used to look up recordings of certain instruments -- like the bassoon.
None of my Kellogg friends knew I did this. We spent time away from school listening to the Allman Brothers and Uriah Heep and Led Zeppelin and other popular rock and roll stuff and I just never felt like confessing that I regularly arrived at school early, went to the library, checked out classical music albums, often featuring the bassoon, and listened to them while I read.
Listening to this music while reading invigorated me. The literature I was reading enthralled me and the soaring bassoon solos excited me further, making my reading memorable and enjoyable.
When I became a graduate student at the University of Oregon, about five years after graduating from North Idaho College, I discovered the library's Douglas Listening Room and went back to my old North Idaho College habit. When I had loads of John Ruskin or Mark Twain or Henry James or George Eliot to read, I often went to the listening room, found call numbers for record albums featuring a bassoon and made my way through my reading load inspired by the music and warmed by my secret life in the library at North Idaho College.