Last Sunday we hosted a concert and party at our house. When we first looked at the house in July one of the things we loved about it was that it would be great for entertaining. It has an open floor plan and a second floor living room that overlooks the first floor living room. We immediately thought of having concerts in that space, with the piano on the ground floor and people gathered around it as well as folk upstairs looking down on the proceedings. The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra started organizing house concerts this winter as a way of giving people an up close musical experience and to introduce new people to the organization. Mark and I jumped at the opportunity to open up our home in this way.
While we do have a fair amount of space we decided to serve hors d’oeuvres instead of doing a sit-down dinner. Good thing, since the guest list quickly grew to 35 people. Olivia and Rose were lifesavers with the food preparation. When you’re making 6 separate dishes for that number of people, even easy appetizers take time! Unfortunately Olivia had a rehearsal during the party but Rose was a standout maneuvering through the crowd with trays of food. Several friends contributed food and serving pieces as well. (Maybe I was a bit ambitious in getting rid of things when we moved :)) Since this is Wisconsin it’s practically required to have a cheese plate, so we piled it up with Wisconsin aged cheddar, cranberry goat cheese and Balsamic BellaVitano plus locally made crackers. I think it was the most popular thing on the table. Once everyone had a glass of wine or beer we settled down for the concert.
Two young members of the violin section played for us. Even though I’ve played in orchestras for years, I still find it thrilling to hear soloists up close. Tim and Eleanor are top notch musicians and played joyfully throughout their duets. They were funny in their descriptions of the pieces and thoroughly charmed everyone. Following them was a gentleman who is a big supporter of the orchestra and an amateur singer. He is a native Chinese speaker but delivered several Schubert songs in German after filling us in on the meaning of the songs. The grand finale was Mark and Music Director Andrew Sewell hamming it up on a few piano four hands duets. They are two peas in a pod and had us all in stitches watching them.
There was plenty of time to mingle after the music and we had a great time talking to board members and friends as well as their guests who we didn’t yet know. It was a wonderful event and it seemed that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Even better, several people proclaimed that they would like to host a similar party in the future!