I am just now back from my orchestra's concert, the season opener that featured Holst's The Planets. I normally wouldn't write about the thing until Monday or even Tuesday, but I thought I would sort this out now while it's still fresh in my head. The chardonnay is cold, and the pesky cats aren't pawing at the mactop, so here I go:
I'll start from the end and work backwards. The second half of the concert was a violin concerto by Saint-Saëns with Bohdan Subchak as the guest soloist. Bohdan plays with us normally, but tonight was his night as the star. He is a tidy penny-loafers sort of man who you can't imagine would leave the house with his shirt untucked, and he plays beautifully. He was given a standing ovation, and his response was a delightful piece he played unaccompanied. The audience was quiet for him and stood again.
I was part of the audience because I didn't play the second half of the concert. There was some confusion as to who should play the second horn part when only two parts are needed, and I will not speak further about this matter. The two horns on stage sounded lovely together, so it all worked out for the best.
Anyway, the first half of the concert consisted of a wind ensemble playing a Holst suite for band (No. 1), and it was a delight to play. It's rare when the wind section performs without the strings, and I think we as a group did the piece justice. As for me personally, I made some mistakes I had no business making. There wasn't a note or a rhythm or a dynamic I couldn't handle with precision in that piece, yet when it came time to perform, I found myself doubting even the simplest of countings. A four-measure rest in a straight four. Here? Do I come in here? No, wait. What if I missed a measure? Is this the pitch, or am I too low? blah blah blah
All I can say for myself is that there are some demons that cannot be gotten rid of completely. You can bury them to some extent or quiet them with carefully placed affirmation, but they are never completely banished. And at the worst times, they can rear their hideous heads and make you think you couldn't possibly succeed and that you will always be something less than you wish to be.
I wrestled with this very issue on stage tonight, and I was disappointed overall. I was so looking forward to an adrenalin rush and a thrill and all that goes with a marvelous performance.
We went from the band suite to The Planets, playing only Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. I fought the tired, old demon I thought was gone but was only resting until we got to Jupiter, and that's when I put my foot down and took charge. Jupiter is a blast to play, and I can play it. I know I can. And when I was waiting for the downbeat, I reminded myself that I could play it—for five two-beat measures I reminded myself, and when my entrance came, I was ready. So, that demon was pushed aside at least for the last movement. And when the andante came with that triumphant melody that I can't seem to stop humming, I wished I could smile and play the horn at the same time. And I do believe the conductor looked a bit pleased with his orchestra.
At least I had that bit of success to take home with me, and I truly enjoyed being a part of the audience for the second half. But I'm sure I'll wake up at 3:00 tomorrow morning and run through all the mistakes I made while the demon was making noise.