Olympic fever, and missing Marvin

For me, Marvin Hamlisch was the highlight of Seattle Symphony Pops Concerts.
By Joanne Peterson | Aug 16, 2012

Did you spend countless hours and days in London attending the Olympic Games? I did, at least in spirit.

Winter Olympics thrill me, with skating and hockey and all the dare-devil events involving youthful participants hurling themselves down icy slopes in pursuit of victory.

Summer Olympics?  I’d forgotten how much I enjoy them.

From opening ceremonies through closing ceremonies, I sat—or stood—transfixed, taking in all the excitement.

The first night, I didn’t miss a moment of the complicated and imaginative opening ceremonies. Light, color, costumes and music--even Paul McCartney singing “Hey, Jude,” his voice echoing across the stadium.

During those opening ceremonies, athletes walked together in the London night, as ready as ever they could be for the competition awaiting them.

From thousands of miles away, I could imagine their adrenaline rush—years of practice, competitions, injuries, qualifying events, and—finally-- the dreams of a lifetime coming together: The Olympic Games. London. Would they medal? Would they not?   My prayer was that they wouldn’t be hurt—and that their mothers would make it through without having heart attacks.

Of course, I didn’t actually watch everything. I missed a lot of the action, as life in Edmonds does go on, no matter how amazing the events in London.

Often I came home from the beach, the market, the library or a meeting and quickly turned on the TV to catch up.

Sometimes it took a while for me to figure out whether I was watching highlights of an event I’d seen the night before, but I never minded watching again.

Track.  Gymnastics.  Rowing.  Beach volley ball.  I had favorite events, but I watched any events I could.  The last few days, I heard people say they were tired of the Olympic Games. I wasn’t.

One commentator labeled the first part of the closing ceremonies “a varied and dynamic rock concert,” but the wild music and amazing (weird) costumes were followed by glorious choral music during the lowering of the big white flag with its bright multi-colored circles.

Dazzling lights swept the audience, fireworks erupted, athletes smiled and waved, taking final photographs. The Olympic flame was extinguished.  So that was it for the Olympics.

But the Olympic flame was not the only bright light extinguished last week.  Composer Marvin Hamlisch died quite suddenly at the age of 68. His music will live forever.  He won Oscars, Emmys, a Pulitzer and countless other awards.

Mostly, though, he wrote and performed music that lifted spirits and caught imaginations. “The Way We Were” and the theme from “The Sting” echo in my mind.

For me, Marvin Hamlisch was the highlight of Seattle Symphony Pops Concerts.  “Hamlisch Plays Hamlisch” is written on my calendar as the February 2013 concert title. I can’t imagine he won’t be there.

Marvin Hamlisch brought his musical genius and generous spirit to several Seattle Symphony Pops Concerts each year. I enjoyed every one.  “Hamlisch Plays Hamlisch” is the title of the February 2013 concert.  Oh, my.


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