As I walked out on the stage during intermission, I sat in my chair and looked around me. I blew a few notes to make sure I was warmed up and my horn was up to temperature, then just absorbed the scene. One by one, my colleagues made their way onto the stage, the audience slowly returned to their seats, then the chorus filed in. Right before Robin (our concertmaster) stood up to tune the orchestra, there was this buzz, or heighten awareness in the room that something WONDERFUL was going to happen. The orchestra tuned, the room got silent, then Gregory Vajda walked onto the stage. The audience applauded, as they always do, no more, no less than any other conductor who has been fortunate enough to conduct our talented collection of artists.
Gregory mounted the podium, raised his arms and gracefully brought them down, and the wonderful DID happen. As the low strings made the gorgeous opening tones, and shortly after the chorus entered, the California was FILLED with Brahms. Music that has spanned the centuries was magically shared by 150 musicians on stage and a hall brimming with music lovers. It was one of those moments for which we musicians live.
During the whole first movement (I don’t play so I was truly a transfixed member of the audience), I was filled with wonderment, glee, appreciation, gratitude and awe. Here I am, sitting on this stage, in this beautiful building, wearing beautiful clothes, amongst a stage full of talented musicians, surrounded by this enchanted experience, God, I HAVE to be the luckiest man alive tonight. It was one of those moments that brings back the whole reason I am so passionate about music. Nothing else seemed to matter, but the moment. So often, we are sidetracked by contracts, and working conditions, and all the unmusical necessities of keeping an arts organization running, but here it is, the whole reason we do that, for THIS, right here, right now. We are IN that moment. Nothing else matters.
The Requiem was spellbinding... start to finish.
As the final chords were sounding, and Gregory held that last note, time was suspended. Those few seconds of silence after the release, seemed like an eternity..... then the audience erupted. Know it or not, they were participants in an extraordinary event.