Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What Does Your Finale Sound Like?

I hope you're not blinded by the explosion of pink on my page. My last 12 months were filled with one season - summer on Botox - so I'm really excited about Spring and DC's cherry blossoms!

Toasting a Potomac River
sunset before the show
"To truly appreciate the destination, one must first understand the path." 

Last Saturday I had a fantastic evening filled with the flawless punctuation of notes from The National Symphony Orchestra and their world-famous, distinguished guest of honor, Sarah Chang. My wonderful date was the former student band director of Stanford University's Symphony Orchestra and is a great trumpet player. I dare to boast that he can identify nearly any jazz musician within the first measure of their song and he would definitely be my first pick of partners in musical trivia. This is essentially the perfect man to take you to the symphony - one who will appreciate it. The Arts can be a tricky destination for some. A gentleman escorted me to my favorite winter ballet, The Nutcracker, last December and it must have been either the imaginary ants in his pants or the strangulation of the top button of his dress shirt that couldn't keep that man still in his seat. Bless his heart, he managed to survive the evening, but it was sad to me that he didn't appreciate the hours of practice and the blistering toes (come on, we all saw Black Swan) that those performers had conquered to bring us an evening of entertainment. 

Violin Concerto No.1
I found myself staring in awe at the speed at which Sarah's fingers moved up and down the neck of her instrument. When she played a solo, she would command the stage, stomp her foot, swing her hair or flourish her bow coming out of a long string. When she played in confluence with the rest of the orchestra, she would soften a bit, blending perfectly with their sound. When the orchestra would pick notes with their fingers instead of using their bows, it sounded as if only one member was playing with not a single note struck out of its proper time and place. These are details that Alejandro and I sat nearly on the edge of our seats to absorb. We appreciated the range of effects, from each note that was struck to the entire feeling that the piece gives you as it fills the concert hall. Suddenly, my thoughts drifted into a parallel with running. 

Running, like the Arts, is not meant for all. Some can't endure the pressure on their muscles and joints. Some find it mundane, even trite. But for those who love running, we see it for more than the repetition-of-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other facade that it appears to have. We understand the importance of every single step and how it contributes to our goals, whether they be weight loss, a decreased race time or simply its contribution to a resolved healthier lifestyle. Much like those orchestra players who become frustrated with certain notes that they can't hit, or speeds that they struggle to reach in practice, so does a runner slow after exertion, caused by anything from a side cramp to a serious injury. But when that music lover contemplates and recognizes the magnanimous effect that the entire symphony will have upon its audience, he'll continue to pluck and play until he has achieved the perfection that constitutes the essence of the piece. And if a runner hits his third mile for the first time in his life, or sees his LDL levels dropping after a physical exam, he understands that he has achieved a goal from perseverance and the sweat of every step along the way.

Sarah Chang could have missed one or two notes in the overwhelming display of scales in Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 and I'm pretty sure that no one in the audience would have noticed it. But she would. And the conductor would. And you darn well better believe that Max Christian Friederick Bruch would have noticed it from his grave. Yes, even a world-famous musician, making more money than most of us will ever attain by her age, will make mistakes. You'll have a bad day on the track, on the course, on the hill. You'll want to kick yourself for pushing too hard when things didn't turn out just the way you envisioned them. Start slow, try again. Every step, every note, gets you closer to the extraordinary feeling that will overcome you when you get it right. And whether the applause you hear is coming from the hands of 500 people in a concert hall, or is simply the beat of your own proud, bulging heart, turn around and take a look at that well-traveled road and smile. You wouldn't be here without it.

No comments:

Post a Comment