The orchestra tunes. The conductor enters. He takes the podium. The audience settles. The baton raises. Quiet. More quiet. Energy gathers into the conductor’s focus as it trains right. A lone instrumentalist reflects the beam. And poom, paum paoum, pom, declares the timpanist. The beats cascade through the hall the winds on their tail and so is Beethoven’s violin concerto borne again.
Was it magic? Was it electric? Was it joy, beauty, solace? It was all of these. It was just the three of us: Thierry and Eric and me. And it was everyone else, too. An orchestra of musicians on the stage, and over a thousand souls in the audience. It was a moment to convene, to be one sound, to feel one beat, our miscellany of being, as one. How did it happen?
It is actually a highly calculated, highly prepared event. Music emerges from silence and Maestro Thierry Fischer has honed his body language to command this from the audience. In rehearsal, also non-verbally, Timpanist Eric Hopkins has understood that his four notes need to sound even, not rushed, yet moving forward and with energy. These ideas come from Fischer’s imagination, having deeply studied the score.
Eric arrives first on stage, with colleagues, selects his mallets, tunes, and sits quietly waiting for Thierry. Head bent, Thierry creates quiet, and looks up to Eric. Eric acknowledges Thierry with a smile and eye contact saying “Things are OK. I’m ready,” and centers his mallets on the instruments. The conductor’s internal tempo begins to tick, the baton is raised, the beat falls, and Eric responds: momentum and energy.
The magic moment comes on beat five as woodwinds enter, when everyone lands together in time and tone. The orchestra is a body in synch, producing a soundscape blossoming from nothing, except ideas translated into physical activity: a laser sparked and we are all in. Magic: Thierry and Eric and You.
(Fine Print: Thank you to Eric Hopkins for discussion regarding his work. The part about Thierry Fischer, well, a peon like me doesn’t get a private audience with a maestro like him, so I made it up. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you feel inspired to experience the magic of symphony.)
Photo courtesy of MOTUS.
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