Erin's student quartet played outdoors tonight, at the opening of the "Christmas by the Lake" German-style Christmas market that our community is hosting. It runs for three days and is brand-new. Tomorrow the indoor venue with be open with the artisans' market in there. Tonight the outdoor venues were open -- 11 wooden huts selling food and souvenirs, four bonfire rings, the snow- and ice-sculpting area and the lighted ice-slide playground. At two of the bonfires there was free food -- roasted chestnuts and bannock to toast on a stick. There were lots of cups of glühwein travelling around warming people's hands and bellies.
The quartet shivered their way through a heroic 15-minute set. The temperature was somewhere at or below minus 12. By the time they were tuned and ready to play their fingers were hurting despite the fingerless gloves they were all wearing. By the time they were playing the Pastorale from the Corelli Christmas Concerto, they could no longer feel enough with their fingertips to know whether they were on the A- string or D-string or goodness knows where. I hate to think the stress their instruments suffered. The only obvious technical difficulty was a huge peg-slip by the cello that resulted in a missing bass note in the final cadence for one of the Christmas carols -- the string suddenly just wouldn't make a sound, having slipped to slack.
But they retuned and soldiered bravely on for another couple of pieces until it became physically painful for them to keep playing. The warm reception they got from the audience provided some small relief from the chill.