Mr. Spock Got Old
This past Friday, my husband and I pursued an unusual activity — we went to a concert. Ordinarily, we don't spend money on such things, but having been given a gift certificate from my piano students, I decided to splurge. The following is the blurb about the concert:
To Boldly Go...From the program's inception, I was a fan of the original Star Trek, which debuted on NBC-TV on September 8, 1966 (nearly forty years ago!), so this particular concert had the additional appeal of a personal appearance by Mr. Spock (aka Leonard Nimoy, who had done work other than Star Trek, including directing the film Three Men and a Baby as well as publishing two biographies and books of photographs and poetry). Apparently, several thousand others also found this concert's celebrity worthy of seeing in person. Wolf Trap was packed — so crowded, in fact, that it took us a full thirty minutes just to get out of the parking lot!
Emil de Cou, conductor
Leonard Nimoy, narrator
WITH FAMED STAR TREK ACTOR Leonard Nimoy as your guide, journey to the final frontier and beyond with music inspired by outer space! Your great galactic adventure begins with selections from Gustav Holst's The Planets, a symphonic exploration of our solar system. The work will be complemented by stunning images of the cosmos on giant screens. Then it's full warp-speed ahead through your favorite sci-fi and fantasy movies with music from Star Wars, The Twilight Zone, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and of course, Star Trek. Beam me straight to Wolf Trap, Scotty!
Wolf Trap is a beautiful and unique venue for concerts with an interesting history:
"In 1833 Thomas Fairfax and his wife divided Towlston Grange, his 5568-acre portion of land located in the south central section of the Providence Magisterial District, between their sons in portions of 1152 acres called Ash Grove and 2458 acres in the division of Towlston. The Ash Grove portion included the part of Wolf Trap Farm on the east side of Wolf Trap Run, the Towlston tract the land on the west.A mere $100 per acre for land in Fairfax County? Those were the days! The cost of dining at Wolf Trap were not in line with the prices of days gone by, however. A hotdog cost $5.00 and just a bottle of water was an astounding $4.00! My husband and I skipped buying any refreshments except for a softie ice-cream ($4. 50) and a bag of stale, too salty popcorn ($5.00). Never mind the $28.95 charge for a steak at the one small restaurant. Next time we go to Wolf Trap, we'll do as the hordes and bring our own cooler.
"Various land owners and divisions of the property occured until 1930. At that time, Mrs. Catherine Filene Dodd (later Shouse) purchased a 53-acre plot, which made up the original tract of land that Shouse, keeping with its history, called Wolf Trap Farm.
"Indeed, from as early as 1632 records indicate that wolves had caused much damage in the region. The General Assembly, in trying to deal with the wolf menace, offered rewards of tobacco for those who constructed pits or traps to capture and deliver wolf heads to the General Assembly. A smaller reward was given to those who used a gun or some other means to kill the animals.
"As more people populated the area wolves became less prevalent and less of a threat. In an official land survey dated August 17, 1739 the name 'wolftrap' appeared as a branch of Difficult Run.
"Shouse purchased the aforementioned land for $5,300. She continued to purchase additional parcels of land until 1956, totaling 168 acres in all...."
Despite the drawbacks of the food prices, the huge crowd in attendance, and our aching backs from all the walking, my husband and I had a perfect evening for attending To Boldly Go. The weather at this time of year is usually hot and steamy, but last Friday evening was much like the beginning of spring or the start of autumn; several of the attendees had to don jackets as the evening wore on. Adding to the effect of the music combined with images from NASA, from time to time, the moon peeked through the slats of the pavilion where we were seated. And, conducted by a most enthusiastic director, the National Symphony Orchestra was in top form.
Most attendees obviously came to see Leonard Nimoy, who narrated the second portion of the concert. A few of those in the audience sported Trekkie shirts. And when Leonard Nimoy flashed the famous split-finger Vulcan salute, the crowd inside the pavilion and outside on the lawn went wild with cheers. They didn't seem to mind that Mr. Nimoy was seventy-five years of age and that, consequently, his voice wasn't young any more. In fact, the man's voice has so changed that I barely recognized it when he spoke at the end of the first segment, and my husband didn't recognize the voice at all. Nevertheless, Spock's words, as uttered in the epilogue to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and spoken offstage, provided a dramatic voice-over to the musical sounds of the National Symphony Orchestra:
"Space...the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her on-going mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!"Mr. Nimoy's final words as narrator of Holst's The Planets were predictable:
"Live long and prosper."Again, the crowd roared as they reacted to that famous split infinitive "to boldly go," perhaps the most famous such grammatical structure in pop culture today. At the conclusion of the concert, Mr. Nimoy and the conductor got a standing ovation and three curtain-calls. Therefore, one might say that the concert was a success.
But I found that seeing and hearing an aging television character who is forever young on the screen to be a bit disconcerting — even melancholy. Despite the twenty-year age difference between us and Mr. Nimoy's grace and stage presence, seeing an old Mr. Spock reminds me of my own mortality. I wonder if anyone else felt the same way as we left Wolf Trap last Friday night.