Last night, my orchestra had its first of three rehearsals for a concert we'll be giving Saturday evening. The season's theme is space related (as in the Cosmos, not Star Wars), so we will be playing portions of Holst's The Planets throughout the year starting with Mars, Venus and Jupiter.
There are six horn parts, and we're covering them with four players. Fortunately, my rib/muscle/cartilage issue has resolved itself, and the guy next to me with the upper respiratory something and carpel tunnel surgery is doing just fine, so we're handling it.
Last night, it was so nice to sit down and play the parts and do well. When you sit alone in your living room to practice, you can play with dynamics and do your best to be musical—as the principal horn player says, to play the way the composer intended—but nothing compares to being in the midst of the whole group where you can react to each other, a collective adrenalin rush that makes the quiet sections lovely with anticipation and the louder sections so powerful your eyes water.
I wrote an article for Small Town Newspaper about all the details that go into preparing for a concert, and a photographer was there last night to get some shots to go with it. We talked for a few minutes beforehand, and I don't think he has had the opportunity to spend much time around an orchestra—really, I'm guessing that's true of most people. Several times throughout the evening, I saw him appear to be in awe of the experience. That's not to say we were brilliant but that being surrounded by the focused effort is compelling.
I haven't played with this group since Labor Day, and in fact, I haven't played with ANY group since Labor Day. Not that I have forgotten how much I love playing music with an orchestra, but last night during an extended rest, I scanned the room and took it all in. And I said to myself, yep, this ranks right up there as one of my favorite things in life.
Here is a four-year-old boy playing I Vow to Thee My Country taken from Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity: