by Christina Tromburg/Sonja
Greetings from Idaho! Please enjoy a scene from highway 55 between Boise and Cascade, which my brother-in-law
took last weekend on his way up to their cabin.
Enlarge it if you can to fully appreciate it – it was taken in early morning. This fall seems
to be especially spectacular in our area, and Andre’s concert in Portland was as
breathtakingly beautiful and vibrant as the colors are outside. No doubt, every girl and
woman there felt like Cinderella at the ball before the strike of midnight.
On Monday October 8, at about noon, I drove to pick up Nancy and Susan to head off to
the airport to start our adventure. Margaret would join us in Portland the following day, as
she still had piano students to work with to prepare for their Christmas recital. After
checking our luggage and going through security, we settled into the boarding area with
our Starbucks in hand. Nancy sweetly asked an older woman if the seat next to her
luggage was open. Little did we know that such a simple question would unlatch the
floodgate of chatter detailing all her experiences going through security, her items that
were taken away, details of all her toiletries and medications and how much they cost,
where she was going and why, etc., etc. In an effort to divert the flow of conversation, I said:
“say, would you mind taking our picture?” It didn’t have the effect I was going for – she didn’t understand which
button to push, oh dear, and the conversation was getting louder and drawing attention of everyone in our terminal
area. After a few tries, we got a suitable shot, thanked her – and, big sigh – our plane was now boarding and she
was getting on a different flight.
Arriving in Portland, we picked up our car and, thanks to Nancy’s brilliant navigation, we eventually got to our hotel
and checked in. We were meeting Nancy’s daughter, Sarah, for dinner. It was so great to see her; I watched her
grow up, and now here she is married and living in Vancouver – and she’s expecting a baby in April! We met her at
their new house, and she and her husband suggested several places to eat.
We wanted to go someplace that wasn’t a national chain, so we decided on a place called Gustav’s in Vancouver,
which was reported to have authentic German fare. It was cozy-looking inside and out, and when we walked in,
Susan was instantly taken back home to her German heritage with the aromas.
At Susan’s recommendation, for appetizers we shared cheese fondue and also potato
pancakes served with applesauce and sour cream. She said they used to call that
“heaven and earth.” We each ordered a different entrée, but then shared everything.
We enjoyed Sauerbraten, Weisswurst/Bratwurst, Pork Cordon Bleu, and Shepherd’s
pie (certainly not the kind I make with ground beef – this had chunks of tender roasted
meat). It was all so good! As we lingered over the feast, we shared our motherhood
wisdom with Sarah, as well as our funny tragedies and mistakes. It was a great
Back at the hotel, the slumber party began – we were all 4 sharing the same room.
We talked all night, like in years past, only now we suffered under-eye issues in the
morning. But, we had a remedy for that, and learned other beauty secrets from each
other as well ;-). Margaret took some funny and embarrassing hotel-room photos of girls
getting ready & lounging around and sporting “curler-hawks” that would put Sanjaya’s “pony-hawk” to shame
(Sanjaya of American Idol fame). We’ll not share those photos, though…..
Tuesday, we did some shopping in the Pearl district. Susan does art work with glass and there was a glass gallery
there she wanted to check out. Later in the day, Margaret had arrived and we met some other Andre fans at Red
Robin near our hotel. We met Sally, Marlene (who I met last year at the Seattle concert), Gerta, Suzan, Marilyn, &
Terry. We learned that there would be a PBS reception in our hotel just before the concert that Gerta and Suzan
were going to. We wondered if perhaps some of the JSO would be there, so we lingered a little in the lobby & halls
when it was reported to start. No immediate sightings, though, and it was time to get ready for the concert, so we
headed back to the room.
Margaret is our sensible one, who kept us all on schedule, ate wisely, and got up before everyone else to go
exercise. She laughs at everything, and has a beautiful deep spiritual maturity that I’ve benefited from many times
over the years. In school, we called her “half-pound Magwat” (it sounded like some kind of produce) because she’s
so small. Nancy has always been someone I can talk to about any and everything for hours, also has a loving,
beautiful spirit – but her reputation is a little different... her nickname is “Lucy” as in Lucille Ball – full of antics, and
whatever can go wrong, will ;-). I loved getting to know Susan better, seeing her fun-loving nature, and hearing
about her life. She speaks fluent German and it sounds so delicate and striking. She doesn’t have an accent at all
speaking English. When we were almost ready for the concert, as Nancy and I were putting on earrings and
agonizing over what the coastal air does to our hair – makes all the curl drop out of hers, and makes my hair go
FWOOF - Margaret called out “15 MINUTES, GIRLS – let’s go!” I made some funny Idaho potato pins for all of us to
wear, to represent our state – they were all brave enough to wear them!
We caught the light rail just across the street from the hotel to the venue – Gerta and Suzan were there, too. We
found our seats at the Rose Garden in plenty of time and settled in. We were in a corner near the back, and I was
prepared for a more distant experience than last year. I had no idea what surprise awaited! Soon the house lights
dimmed. A man somewhere to our left said “look, there’s a bow coming from behind the curtain.” I thought, “bow?”
Ohhhhhh! BOW – in Andre’s Hand!!!! We looked, and Johan was standing in front of a black curtain just in front of
us to the right (Johan, Andre’s body guard? More about him later…). And a BOW was showing from behind the
curtain, then part of Andre’s profile (!!!) – my camera was ready (and maybe we were acting a little crazy) – the
announcer was speaking, then 76 Trombones started to play and Andre emerged with a big smile, followed by his
The section of empty red seats was just behind the sound booth – I think they were blocked because visibility would have
been poor there. Otherwise, the house was quite full.
Being so far back, the photography wouldn’t be very good, so we just sat back and enjoyed the music – and it was so
enjoyable! Seeing the bigger picture, we got a better sense of the whole mood and all the effects of the fabulous
lighting. The sound from the tenors that night was more magnificent than on any of the DVDs, and I was so glad to
finally hear Torna a Surriento live. I was also very impressed with Laura’s voice and the passion of her song. Susan
(my friend sitting with us), pointed out that there were tears in Andre’s eyes while he played the Wolga song – you
could see it on the big screens. You know, it’s really a shame that Andre and the orchestra can’t hear all the
individual, spontaneous, emotional reactions after each song from the back of the house… the mmmmmm’s, the
ohhhhhhh’s, bravos, “beautiful!” “nice!” At one point Nancy leaned over and said, “he really has a playful side,
doesn’t he?” When I was coming out of the ladies room, I heard a young girl say to another woman, “I didn’t know
this was going to be so much fun!”
Amigos Pare Siempre Susan, Nancy, Margaret, Happy Girls
During the intermission, I went down to the floor section to talk to some friends and get some pictures. Earlier, the
ushers wouldn’t let us down there without showing ticketed seats there. This time, I didn’t make eye contact and
walked right past and didn’t get nabbed. I then went back to join the others for the second half. Mirusia was a big hit,
and Suzan/Sissy was as lovely as ever. During the Blue Danube I counted at least 25 couples dancing – there were
probably more I couldn’t see; and Andre stopped the music in several places, and different places than usual, and
waved at some of the dancers. Bolero was amazing – Andre is just so dang cute conducting that! And I’ve really
come to love Radetzky’s March and the celebration with the balloons dropping.
Laura Engel singing 'Besame Mucho' Mirusia, Concerto Pour Une Voix Waltzing to Blue Danube
Susan and I got up the nerve to try to go down by the stage during the encores. Again, the ushers were doing their
duty, and it was several songs into the encores before we talked them into letting us go. One finally said, “Oh, go
ahead” and waved us on in.
Yippie!!!! Up near the stage, we got some fairly decent photos. I don’t remember what song it was, but a man from
the audience who was also standing in the same area extended his arms – I thought he wanted to dance or
something – then he took my waist and put me in the lead of a conga line! I tried to back away and said “no, no, no, I
don’t want to be in front” but he didn’t take no for an answer, and there I went – driven forward by the rest of the
train. It was kinda funny, though. As we turned the corner down the center aisle, I tried to pick up Marlene as we
passed, but she wouldn’t. I later found out that her feet were killing her from new shoes. They gave more encores
than I remember last year, and it was so fun seeing them all up close. A few more pictures and Lullaby began to play
– awwww, the last song. The lights went down, the stars came out, and it was time to say good night.
Soon after Andre left the stage and everyone was mingling and preparing to go, I was walking past the stage with
Susan nearby, and Johan brushed past – obviously in a bit of a hurry, and I’m pretty sure he said “excuse me.”
Whoa! Quite a commanding presence; I’ll tell you, I’m 5’8” barefoot, I was wearing 3” heels, and he still towered over
me! Whew! (I won’t tell you Susan’s comment when he passed ;-).
Marcel Stephanie After Concert Frank Behind Stage
After most of the orchestra members had left the stage, Marcel and Ronald were still putting things away and were
very accommodating as to having their picture taken (the one with Ronald in it was posted to the Harmony Parlor
earlier) Look how adorable Marcel is here. Franco was also still there. I took a couple pictures of him too, but they
turned out too dark – such a shame! Stephanie came out to the audience area after changing clothes to talk to some
friends and I was able to get a picture – I was actually in this one with her, but I was blinking so I cropped that part
out. As we were leaving to go back up and meet Nancy & Margaret, I saw Frank kind of off to the left and behind the
stage. I said, “hi, Frank,” held up my camera asking for a picture, and he gave me a wave. This one is dark, too, but
it’s too cute to leave out.
While we were waiting for the light rail back to the hotel, Margaret took this picture of me, Susan and Nancy. Susan
started us on a round of singing songs that had the word “blue” in them as we waited. The crowd waiting with us all
seemed to be in a good mood and engaged in friendly, light conversation. In the elevator going up to our room,
everyone there had also been to the concert. I passed out the remaining made-in-Idaho trinkets I’d brought to give
away – I had just enough left. The next morning at breakfast in the hotel café, I met Marthanne Dedrick with SOPTV
from Medford. She had hosted the PBS reception the night before and was with a group of people. I learned that
there were no JSO members at the reception; it was simply a thank-you for PBS patrons who bought a concert
package. We had a conversation on what I could do to encourage Idaho PTV to host a concert in our area, and she
gave me some SOPTV contact names who may be able to offer some ideas. We’ve also emailed a couple times
After Concert Elevator After Concert) Nancy, Chris, Susan, Margaret
The final picture is our gang getting ready to board the plane from Portland back home (notice the t-shirtJ, and no, I
didn’t cut my hair, it’s just pulled back). Susan said the concert made her homesick for Germany. We had such a
great time! I may not be able to pull off attending multiple concerts per year like some of you are able to – oh how I
wish I could…..for now, I’ll put my pumpkin on the porch for decoration, and dream of the return of my glass slipper.
Additions from Nancy, Susan & Margaret:
Chris' enthusiasm was contagious, so we coined her Ms. Enthusiasm - she is the one who got everyone else excited
about the concert, and she wore the most glamorous outfit! We only had one traffic incident as we were driving
around Portland; it’s funny how other drivers just did NOT understand – all our driver did was try to go strait as we
went through an intersection…when our lane was supposed to turn – but we were looking for the busses!!! (We won’t
name names, it wasn’t Chris). As we were leaving the concert, some convention center representatives were
handing out flyers, or coupons for an upcoming Billy Joel concert. Chris said, “Are you kidding - after THAT?” Susan
asked, “Billy Who?”
As a funny side note, I set that picture I took of Andre & Teun, that is posted in the Harmony Parlor, as the desktop
picture on my work PC. Poor Teun keeps getting covered with icons – I move them out of the way, but because I
often undock and switch between a LAN connection and cable, the icons don’t stay where I put them. Anyway, as in
many companies, within our worldwide intranet, we can “share” our desktop for a meeting, and others can see
things on your screen from other locations. I was in a meeting with my manager who is in San Diego and had just
shared my desktop with her, so hadn’t brought up any documents yet, and she had to put me on hold because
another manager walked up to her desk. The other manager saw the Andre/Teun picture on my manager’s PC and
said, “hey, what’s that?” The other manager had been to an Andre concert last December and really enjoyed it! My
manager explained that it was actually her Admin’s desktop in Boise and that I had just been to the concert in
Portland. I later exchanged email with the other manager and she highly recommended a holiday concert!
Andre in Portland, Oregon
Autumn (Oct) 2007
Sarah, Nancy and Chris
Susan, Nancy and Chris
I think Gustav and I shall
see each other again!
The Rose garden