Memorial Day Weekend has a lot of rituals for my family. That weekend is the kickoff for Summerfest, the outdoor summer concert series by the North Carolina Symphony that is one of our FAVORITE summer traditions. So on Saturday night, we and our friends get to Koka Booth Amphitheater early, stake out our place on the lawn, then enjoy some picnic goodies and a glass of wine (or two) along with hearing great music from our local symphony. On Sunday, our spiritual center has a big potluck cookout after the service, the first of several held over the summer. Monday morning we attend a memorial service at our local cemetery, then usually spending Monday evening barbecuing with some friends.
Of course, this year NONE of that is happening, due to social distancing and the coronavirus. Now, this evening North Carolina is starting phase 2 of its reopening, which allows restaurants to start serving customers inside the building (at reduced capacity) and opens swimming pools (at reduced capacity). However, I think it’s too soon to do that (seriously?swimming with other people during a pandemic?), so we aren’t going anywhere. That’s why I’ve got homemade dough rising to make pizza for movie night tonight! I’m in the mood for fantasy escapist Heroic with a capital H adventures this weekend, so I think I’ll watch Marvel’s Avengers Infinity War tonight and Endgame tomorrow.
If you aren’t in the mood for superheroes, however, there is lots of other good stuff going on for you to enjoy at home through the magic of modern technology.
For example, some of my favorite musicians, Bob Sima and Shannon Plummer, are offering a concert at 5:00 PM Eastern Time this afternoon at: https://www.facebook.com/WhereTheLightGetsInUs/. Unfortunately I can’t watch it because I’m not on Facebook, but I know it will be an uplifting experience.
Instead as my precursor to pizza-and-a-movie, I’m going to tune into the Lincoln Center website to see their Chamber Music Society in its first concert outside the US. Entitled Odyssey: The Chamber Music Society in Greece, the musicians will play pieces by composers such as Bach, Debussy, Ravel, and Greek-American composer George Tsontakis with backdrops such as the Ancient Amphitheater of Larissa, the historic Church of the Taxiarchon in Pelion, and the newly opened Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens. I wrote previously that I just read two modern novels about the Odyssey from female perspectives (Penelope and Circe), so this is perfect for me. It won’t make up for missing my beloved Summerfest opening, but I’m sure it sooth my savage beast.
You can check it out at: http://lincolncenter.org/lincoln-center-at-home/show/odyssey-the-chamber-music-society-in-greece-885. The Lincoln Center at Home (#LincolnCenterAtHome) has been offering all sorts of wonderful and FREE classical performances online during this period. For example, tonight after the Chamber Music Society concert, they are offering the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at 7:30 Eastern Time, as well as The New York City Ballet’s performance of Wheeldon’s Liturgy and Carousel (A Dance) at 8:00.
At times like this, you either have to laugh or cry, but laughing is better, right? So Raleigh’s resident comedy improv group, ComedyWorx, is offering a virtual show, Laughter in Place. Taking place via Zoom, the show is free (although donations are greatly appreciated), interactive, and family friendly. It takes place on Saturday night at 8:00.
Space is limited, so if you want to participate, sign up at: https://comedyworx.com/event/the-comedyworx-laughter-in-place-show-05-23-2020/
I may not be able to go to our local Memorial Day service, but on Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern Time, I can watch the annual National Memorial Day Concert on PBS at: https://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/. (Traditionally held live on the West Lawn of the US Capitol, it, too, will be a video-only performance due to coronavirus.) Hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise, the show will open with Hamilton’s original George Washington, the fantastic Christopher Jackson, singing the national anthem, and too many other wonderful stars for me to list here (check them out at: https://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/concert/performers/). I will still miss having our usual gathering, but this isn’t a shabby substitute.
Did you know that May 25 (which happens to be Bill Robinson’s birthday) is also National Tap Dance Day? From today through the 25th, the organization Tap Family Reunion is offering a whole bunch of different tap classes and performances to celebrate. Then on the 25th, starting at 5:00 PM Eastern Time and continuing for 24 hours, the Joyce Theater is streaming parts of its acclaimed production of “And Still You Must Swing.” on its YouTube channel. The show features three of the best tap dancers in the business right now–Dormeshia, Derick K. Grant, and Jason Samuels Smith–combining the best of the old and the new in tap dance.
Mass cookouts are, alas, out these days. However, the North Carolina State Fair is trying to fill the void by offering Drive-Thru Fair Food Days from May 22-25, noon to 8:00 PM (and May 29-31 as well). In this cash-only event, you drive through the Fair Grounds and stay in your car as servers come to take your orders and deliver your food. They are offering classic fair food favorite treats like cotton candy and funnel cakes, or deep-fried Oreos and Snickers. For details, please visit: https://www.wral.com/get-your-fair-food-fix-via-this-drive-thru-event/19104846/
There is a ton of other stuff going on as well, but these are at least a few suggestions to keep you from missing your usual Memorial Day activities too much. Enjoy!