Night Music

by James Kangas

The musicians assemble in their black chairs, black tailcoats, long black dresses. Themes from the far corners of the orchestral repertoire float into the air until the stage lights come up and the house lights go down. Silence. The concertmaster strides out, nods for an A, and 98 A’s edge closer to the oboe. Then out comes the conductor with his eccentric hair; he bows from the waist. The fare for tonight is part terra incognita – a nocturne by Maestro’s new protégé from Bucharest, and then Schumann, Shostakovich, tedium. Downbeat: the first surprise noise comes from the violas, migrates to the tuba, clarinets and fiddles before all hell in the percussion breaks out. Maestro flaps like a crow and takes off, swoops to a chandelier, hangs by his toes, starts to foam at the mouth. His hairpins fall out; Rapunzel-like locks fall to the floor. The audience, incredulous, cover their ears and gape. An old woman screams; a young one, in a frenzy, starts to climb Maestro’s tresses, and the chandelier gives way to her heft and his. She breaks his fall and dies with a gasp, which everyone thinks is a swoon of joy. Maestro throws off the chandelier, runs on shoulders, vaults to the stage, heads toward the tympanist with gleaming fangs. What a great concert, everyone is thinking, after Bruckner and Stravinsky the last time.

James Kangas is a retired librarian and musician living in Flint, Michigan. His work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Faultline, New York Quarterly, Penn Review, Tampa Review, Unbroken and others. His chapbook, Breath of Eden (Sibling Rivalry Press), was published in 2019.


International Standard Serial Number
ISSN 2297-3656