Saturday, October 11, 2008



We first took up this piece early this year and realized it could be a nice performance piece for us. Although it's for a cello trio ("Tempo di Minuetto", by Rudolf Matz), when Cellocracy became a quartet we decided we could double the Cello 1 part and keep it at the top of our repertoire. In May we met with our coach, Maria Allison, and started fine-tuning our presentation. Even though one of us was out of town this summer, three of us played it at our summer lunch concert. It went OK, but we stlll needed to improve it, so a few weeks ago we met again with our coach for a polishing session. Tuesday, we had a final rehearsal, and it felt good. Just for fun we played it through at a screaming hot tempo, and even that was good - clearly we were ready.

So, last night was the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra's annual "Evening of Classics" fundraiser. Cellocracy was scheduled after intermission, leaving us plenty of time to listen to all the top-notch performers ahead of us. Previously that would have put me off my game, and I would have started comparing myself to them and asking myself what the heck I was doing there. But this time, I felt confident and relaxed. Our string orchestra played a brief piece right after intermission (not bad, either) and then we were on.

So, it went great! Our rhythm was steady and we immediately found ourselves in a "groove". Here are some of the random thoughts that came up as I played - usually, the panic in my head is so loud, I'm lucky to be able to play my own part, much less think about anything else:

"My bow feels like an extension of my hand. I'm using lots of bow on the legato quarter notes, and making clean transitions as I change direction (this, thanks to my last lesson where we talked a bit about this)."

"My notes feel deliberate and sound spot on."

"Those one or two weak spots that I'd been focusing on these last few weeks were gone. Yeah, even that one pizzicato to arco transition was flawless!"

"I feel in sync with the others, and I'm not having to think about making any minute tempo adjustments to stay with them. Nor, for that matter, does it sound as if they were having to adjust to match me."

"I'm able to carefully listen to each part as needed for their cues."

"I'm also able to widen my focus to listen to the combined piece."

"I'm in no hurry for this to end."

"This is why I wanted to play the cello! What a rush! This is why!"

I don't know if the audience actually heard anything like what I felt we were playing. Sure, their applause was strong and sustained, but this may not be a great measure, audiences in Alaska are usually pretty enthusiastic, anyway. As we gathered in the green room to put away our cellos it was obvious we were all sharing the same positive feeling about our performance, so maybe I wasn't dreaming.

The evening was a success, and I am glad to have been able to play a part in it.

To top things off, I scored a fine 10x50 binocular (it feels more comfortable to say "pair of binoculars" but the term "binocular" is apparently correct) in the fundraising raffle after the concert.

congratulations for a fine performance! That's why we play the cello!
Lovely. What a grand way to soar.
You may think I'm a crack-pot, but I'm a believer in music-telepathy, that is, I think music can allow a listener to sort of read the mind of the performer, to feel what the performer is physically feeling. Somehow, "feeling waves" get transported via the sound waves.

So, I have no doubt that the audience was able to receive and share in those positive feelings that you experienced.
Hurrah! I know professionals who never reach that level of being present. Now that you know what it feels like to more or less sustain it, you get to chase it throughout your playing.
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