This past Saturday, I played in the PRYSM ~ Philadelphia Regional Youth String Music ~ orchestra concert where I had earned the honor of being concert mistress. It was my first time in this position and a great opportunity! I was so excited, but also a little worried that I would make a mistake because I had a lot of solos. In an orchestra, if you mess up in a solo, it throws the other players off a bit.
This is how it went:
I awoke on Saturday morning with a sore throat and a slight feeling of uneasiness in my stomach. Ugh! I sure hope I don’t mess up in the concert today, I thought to myself. Then something in me said, It will be fine, I’ll be fine, I’m not going to mess up, It’s no big deal if I do anyway, after all, it’s only a few seconds out of a whole lifetime.
So after the quarrels in my brain, I leaped out of bed and got a shower, changing into comfortable clothes (not my orchestra attire), topped off with toast and tea. I needed to practice to warm up my fingers before the concert. I chose the Bach E Major Partita and also Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor. Also, just because I love it, I had to throw in a few Irish fiddle tunes, so I played a reel and a jig.
After practice, I donned my orchestra attire which consisted of a white button up blouse, a floor length black skirt and black flats. Then, I heard my mom calling, “It’s time to leave!”
Grabbing my coat, violin and a granola bar, I dashed out the door and into the car!
I listened to John Whelan's Irish tunes and worked through the next chapter of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice during the forty five minute drive.
Entering the theater I found my way to the green room where the orchestra was to unpack their instruments, greeting two of my friends who had been there waiting. While tuning my violin, more of the orchestra members arrived, crowding the room. As we drew closer to rehearsal time I was actually more excited! I wasn’t feeling unsure or uneasy about my solos anymore.
As soon as everyone was settled and unpacked, we were called for rehearsal. The orchestra of younger kids rehearsed first and then it was our turn. We played through all the pieces that were on the program, and then waited for concert time.
As showtime rolled around, we were seated in the crowd to listen to the PRYSM YA ~ Young Artists ~ orchestra. They are musicians between the ages of nine and thirteen. When they finished their performance, my group took our seats. We are musicians between the ages of nine and eighteen with more experience. Our first piece was a combined piece between the PRYSM YA orchestra and our PRYSM orchestra, otherwise known as a side-by-side. I was standing on the side of the stage with the conductor.
When the time came for my solo, I was not nervous anymore. I felt calm. The selection was Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus' by R. Vaughan Williams. It was quite a melancholy piece that I now felt confident playing. As the harpist played a chord and the conductor cued me to begin, I pulled my bow across the strings and my fingers fell in the right places, seemingly on their own. After about sixteen measures, the orchestra joined us in a swirl of sound! I hope the concert sounded as wonderful to the crowd as it did to me!