Now that I'm not kicking myself for my errors in Saturday's orchestra concert, let me try this again. Our concert really was a success, I think. We did not attract a sell-out crowd, but we did fill many more seats than we seem to have been filling for the first concert of each season in the past. And the audience offered their enthusiastic applause for everything we presented to them.
Maybe it was because we were a smaller group than the full orchestra, but when the winds played the band piece at the beginning, I felt as though we were each super conscious of what the others were playing around us and made great efforts to blend and make something together, not just side by side. I am always amused at our behavior during rehearsals in contrast to our behavior in concerts. We rehearse Saturday afternoons, and people are tapping their feet noticeably and counting rests out loud and swearing when they come in early or miss a note. But a few hours later during the performance, the tapping is much less noticeable, and the counting is not nearly as audible. There is still the occasional cuss, but I don't think anyone in the audience can hear that. I certainly hope they can't.
About the foot tapping—I learned something interesting when I first joined the orchestra. When you have an instrument in your lap or in your hands, it's difficult to applaud, say when the president of the board gives a speech or you want to thank the concert sponsor or when the conductor comes on stage. So, the thing to do is to tap your foot or both feet on the floor as a form of applause. And after someone in the group has finished a solo, it isn't appropriate to applaud in the middle of the piece as you would during a jazz number, so you quietly shuffle your feet without interrupting the music.
Back to the concert, I suspect we parted the hair of some in the audience with the force of The Planets, and the violin concerto was absolutely dreamy.
I have been thinking about how these concerts are social events along with musical events. During the intermission, I walked what feels like a gauntlet through the lobby to put my horn away, and I was stopped all along the way by people milling around and saying "hey." I talked to Small Town Newspaper's photographer who was so impressed while shooting at our rehearsal, that he felt compelled to attend the concert, his first ever. I talked to No. 1's high school chemistry teacher who hugged me and talked about No. 1 and my newspaper columns and her ideas for future news stories. Then I talked to some neighbors who are delightful people I never see outside of these concerts. Then this woman from the board nearly knocked me down to tell me how much she appreciated an article I had written about the details of the orchestra, and she felt it did something positive to boost community awareness. Then I ran into an old friend who was stretching his legs while his wife saved their seats. We talked and talked, and then he invited me to join them in the auditorium—there was an empty prime seat directly in front of them because the previous ticket holder died over the summer.
So, it was all swell, just swell. And even though I was disappointed in some elements of my own playing, it was a fantastic evening.