Sunday, March 29, 2009

a night at the symphony


There is something special about the symphony beyond Webern, Schubert, a night in Vienna on a dreary night in Pittsburgh. At an opera or a musical you know that every actor has his part as every musician has his note, but watching musicians on stage is a peculiar play all its own, a secret world with secret handshakes where the initiation involves a recitation of all the works of Baroque composers by heart. These whisperings do not occur behind closed curtains, but before our very eyes. I listen to the hum of the strings, the silent ruffle of pages being turned, the looks exchanged between stand partners, soft chatter. How's Ralph doing? Better, I hope. I think we nailed it. Drinks after the show? I hope no one noticed that I held the b flat in bar 235 too long. I can't wait to go home. Words are not amplified, projected with the bravado of Merman. Only music. But there is something beautiful and melodic all its own in the urgency of the conductor's baton, the smile that plays across the lips of the first chair violinist, the way a little girl in the third row swings her finger to the music, letting it fall like a leaf to her side.

Fin. Brava. Bravo. Bravissimo. Standing Ovation. Tired faces. Appreciative smiles. Decrescendo into the dark night. Until the next performance.

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