The Last Concert of Maestro McCready

January 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm (Short stories) ()

The Last Concert of Maestro McCready
A short story written by Christopher Dracul Van Helsing
Friday evening, January 14th, 2011.

At an inn in the Scottish Highlands, Maestro McCready sipped a small glass of malt whisky.

He had been the conductor of a large symphony orchestra in England.

A very successful career he had had too.

Directing the music of the ages.

How he had loved it.

Beethoven, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Chopin.

To make these men’s music come alive for a new generation.

He had succeeded in that.

He would probably be still doing that.

But the onset of cancer had put an end to that.

He wasn’t given much time left by his physicians in London.

So he had come home to the Scottish Highlands as his final place of sojourn before being called on that final journey that all of us must take.

The inn door opened.

A group of teen-aged school kids had entered the inn along with a bus driver.

“We cannot go further in this weather,” the bus driver spoke to the inn keeper, “the snow is blinding. Can we spend the night here?”.

“Certainly,” the innkeeper said, “I have a few rooms available. And I’ve got some blankets and sleeping bags so that some can bunk together in the sitting room.”

“Thanks,” the bus driver said.

“Where were you headed?” the innkeeper asked.

“Down to Edinburgh,” the bus driver replied, “this is a school orchestra from Saint Ninian’s School. We were hoping to compete tonight in the National Finals. But the weather made it impossible.”

Maestro McCready looked over at the kids’ faces and he could see their disappointment.

“Their music teacher Mr. Henderson made it to Edinburgh all right,” said the driver, “he took his own car so he’s there but without an orchestra to conduct.”

“And we’re an orchestra without a conductor to conduct us,” sighed one young girl.

“If only the judges could hear us, they’d know we’re really really good,” said the boy, “we don’t care about winning. We just want people to know that we’re good. That just because we come from what many would call the backwaters of Scotland doesn’t mean we don’t know how to play good music.”

“Do any of you have cell phones with cameras?” Maestro McCready asked.

Practically all of the children put up their hands.

“And you have your instruments and music sheets with you?” Maestro McCready queried.

The children nodded.

“Well then you can play here in the sitting room and I’m sure our dear innkeeper here or your bus driver could film it and upload it to YouTube and someone could notify the judges at the competition in Edinburgh.” Maestro McCready smiled.

“But we have no one to conduct us,” said the girl.

The innkeeper smiled and introduced his distinguished guest, “This is Maestro Martin McCready who is a professional symphony conductor.”

Some of the children looked at Maestro McCready in awe for they had heard of him.

“What piece were you going to play at the competition?” Maestro McCready asked.

“The Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,” one of the boys answered.

“Get everything set up,” the Maestro smiled as he stood up, “I shall go to my room and put on my Conductor’s clothes. And then I’ll come down and we’ll play to the world Beethoven’s Ode To Joy like it’s never been played before, shall we? We’ll indeed make this melody a true ode to joy.”

Maestro McCready went up to his room and hurriedly dressed.

When he returned downstairs, the innkeeper and the innkeeper’s wife and the bus driver all held cell phone cameras.

Maestro McCready stood in front of the small podium that had been set up for him and bowed to the children and then turned and bowed to the cell phone cameras.

He tapped his baton on his sheet music and started conducting.

Outside the blowing howling winds of northern Scotland seemed to be joining in the sheer joy of that moment and to be singing the lyrics of that immortal Ode:

Yes, even if He calls but one soul
His own in all the world…

All the world’s creatures
Draw joy from nature’s breast;

She gave us kisses and wine
And a friend loyal unto death;
She gave lust for life to the lowliest,
and the Cherub stands before God.

Joyously as His suns speed
Through Heaven’s glorious order,
Hasten, brothers, on your way,
Exulting as a knight in victory.

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter fire imbibed,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers! above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

The Maestro then raised his baton in one final moment of triumph.

The young orchestra ceased playing.

There was silence in the room for about a minute.

Then the innkeeper and his wife and the bus driver broke into thunderous applause.

The orchestra and the Maestro stood up and bowed.

Then the kids gathered excitedly around the Maestro and thanked him for conducting them.

That night was a joy filled night as the young orchestra drank hot chocolate with the Maestro and ate the delicious oatmeal cookies made by the innkeeper’s wife.

Then as the clock chimed 10 PM, the bus driver suggested it was time for bed.

Maestro McCready went up to his room.

He asked the innkeeper not to call him early in the morning.

And he asked the innkeeper to deliver his good-byes to the young orchestra on his behalf.

Early the next morning, the young orchestra rose and went to Edinburgh to engage in sight-seeing if not competition.

They were a happy group as the bus set off.

It was wise of Maestro McCready to ask not to be awakened early.

For he had been called out of this world during the night and his departure might have dampened the children’s spirits.

Yes, even if He calls but one soul…

For in that moment of playing, in that brief concert captured on cell phone web cam, he had become the children’s friend.

… a friend loyal unto death.

As for the orchestra, although they did not win the competition, they were given honourable mention and a special commendation by the judges for their efforts in putting on a concert in a small Highlands inn in adverse weather conditions far from the site of the competition.

Hasten, brothers, on your way,
Exulting as a knight in victory.

And of course, the biggest surprise of all was the video uploaded to YouTube went viral overnight all around the globe and soon everyone in the world had heard of the tiny Saint Ninian’s School Orchestra that had been conducted by Maestro McCready in what would turn out to be his last performance.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world.

As for Maestro McCready, he had managed to fulfill every musician’s secret dream- that one’s last and very final performance would be one’s greatest performance!

… and the Cherub stands before God.

… Seek him above the starry canopy.

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