I play in a crazy/chill/fun/usually-low-stress community orchestra at my university. It’s entirely student-run, and rehearsals are not even remotely “mandatory,” so the quality of performance can be…interesting…at times (eg, when the pianist gets a measure ahead for twenty whole bars, completely ignoring the conductor’s frantic attempts to rein him in. Or when there are three trombones, but one of them–me–is actually a euphonium, and all of them refuse to play the first trombone part because that would entail practicing.) I could have auditioned for the “real” orchestra or for the concert band, but a) I don’t like having to prep for auditions/performances b) My primary is euphonium, not trombone or tuba (and certainly not trumpet), which can be a problem for voicing c) I have a penchant for not practicing as much as I should and d) music isn’t exactly my biggest strength, so I end up needing to practice more than some people.
As I’m thinking about it right now, I’m just so happy that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to learn pretty much whatever instrument(s) I’ve desired (or not desired so much, as it were with piano when I was little). I’m so thankful that my mother put up with her little Asian daughter wanting not to play flute or something decent like that, but trumpet…and then euphonium…and then tuba (On top of having pneumonia, I might add. Yes, I had pneumonia during my first month or so on tuba. I lost the second half of my cross country season to the darn bug, but it didn’t stop me from forcefully expelling air into a large piece of metal.) I do wonder what she would have said if I’d wanted to play percussion, though.
I’m happy where I am, though, even if it does sound less cool to tell people that I’m in a not-for-credit student-run community orchestra than in the symphony orchestra or whatever. For example, we get to vote on our music. That means we get to play all the fun music we didn’t get to play in high school because the band director didn’t like the composer (eg, music from The Lord of the Rings). (Don’t get me wrong, I had a great high school band experience. I just really, really, really wanted to play LOTR, but the teacher didn’t like the soundtrack for some reason). Last night we played music from Pirates of the Caribbean, and were accompanied by two members of the fencing club who staged a sword fight in front of the stage. (The last time they played Pirates, apparently they had all the members wear eyepatches. Unfortunately, they hadn’t rehearsed that way before, and it turned out that it’s actually quite difficult to read music and watch the conductor with only one eye.)
I actually played really well at the dress rehearsal and concert last night. Music doesn’t always work out that way: your peak performance doesn’t always land on the right day. Sometimes it just never really comes together for a piece. But despite only going to about half of the sixteen or so rehearsals this semester, I feel like I played pretty well. Mostly, though, I felt like I was in the presence of God. I don’t know why, because nothing we played was even remotely religious and our intonation wasn’t exactly angelic, but playing/hearing as everything came together honestly felt like a time of worship. I don’t really know how to describe it, except that I think that music is the language of Heaven come down to earth.