Monday, April 21, 2008

Pines Concert Done

The title doesn't seem right to me, but if I remember that people are finished, and cakes are done, I guess it's fine. Anyway, the concert in which we played Pines of Rome was a success. Here is how it went.

We began with the 2nd movement of a relatively new symphony inspired by the composer's autistic son, and the composer was actually listening by telephone. For the sake of time and lack of rehearsing, we would not be playing any other movements, but at the last minute—which means during the concert—our conductor decided we should play excerpts from the third movement before hanging up the phone. I had approached this concert with all the confidence I could muster, and I wasn't nervous at all. But when I heard this announcement, the blood left my head, and felt like I was sucking on a wad of cotton. That movement which I hadn't practiced had a little horn thing at the end. It wasn't difficult and was insignificant compared to the bassoon solo, but it was unfamiliar, and I knew I wouldn't play it correctly. I was right. All I could do was shake it off and not let that one moment of failure ruin the rest of the evening.

Next, we played Bruch's violin concerto featuring our acting concertmaster, a quiet man from the Ukraine. It was lovely, very pretty in places and very powerful in others. The horns had some nice contributions to make to the piece, and I really enjoyed playing it. There were times when I was holding a string of whole notes, playing softly and as steadily as I could, that it felt as if I were humming—I'm not sure how to describe the feeling, but it's a good one. The sound resonates through you down to your shoes on the stage floor. Afterwards, the violinist received a standing ovation which is always rewarding. There are nights when the audience just politely applauds, and you know you didn't quite reach them.

During the intermission, the orchestra members stand out in the hallway by the stage doors and mill around. We get water to cure the cotton mouth and chit chat and catch our breath. I was pretty eager to get on with it, though, and stood on the steps just inside the stage waiting for time to get back out there and get to work. One of the bass players saw me there and said, "You look like you're ready to go." I really was ready to tackle Pines of Rome, even the parts that scared me because they were exposed.

We all took it head on, and the audience and conductor responded. When you play something well, the conductor can sometimes look in your direction with this look of approval and give a gesture asking for even more, and you know you're doing the right thing. That's always better than when he looks at you with a furrowed brow or even a scowl, and you know you have either come in early or late or you missed your pitch or you sound like crap. I didn't get a single one of those looks during this concert—well, I might have during that stupid surprise movement, but I don't know for sure because I tried not to make eye contact while I was busy playing the wrong notes. Anyway, we all got enthusiastic applause at the end with another standing ovation, and the night was a success. Done.

7 comments:

Alifan said...

Very well done Robyn.....

dive said...

What a great night, Robyn. I wish I'd been there to hear it.
I'm sure the only people to notice your personal interpretation of that unrehearsed phrase were the composer and conductor and I very much doubt they minded.
I'm glad it went so well and that you were pleased with your playing. being eager to get back on stage for the second half is always a good sign.
Well done!

Scout said...

Alifan, it really was fun.

Dive, I like the phrase "personal interpretation." I'll start using that.

dive said...

Hee hee. I've been using that for decades. It's a doozy.

Mrs. G. said...

I'm glad that it was a success and that you didn't get any obvious dirty looks.

savannah said...

brava!

this was especially moving:
There were times when I was holding a string of whole notes, playing softly and as steadily as I could, that it felt as if I were humming—I'm not sure how to describe the feeling, but it's a good one. The sound resonates through you down to your shoes on the stage floor.

it was as if i was feeling the music as i read. thank you!

Gina said...

Yay!