Last week I took out a familiar red velvet pouch and rosined my bow for the first time in… let’s just say it has been a while. My stomach crept higher into my throat as I tightened the hair of the bow and turned the pegs to tune. The A440 clearly rang in my ears as I stepped up to the stage at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Of course, I was not there to play some virtuosic concerto but rather to sit in with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra members for a community program they call “Rusty Musicians.”
“Our goal,” Alsop said last night as she grabbed a snack between sessions, “is to reach out and embrace as many people as we can in the sense of inclusion in the joy of music-making. It’s part of our big philosophy, making music a more relevant part of people’s lives.” – from Tim Smith‘s article ‘Rusty’ musicians tune up with BSO.
As I walked away from the stage and floated into the green room to pack up my instrument I felt humbled, but incredibly alive. The Rusty Musician concert only lasted forty-five minutes. The beginning half hour devoted to a sort of dress rehearsal and then a performance of the pieces during the last fifteen minutes. We performed Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture,” an old friend in my orchestral repertoire. Playing with such talented musicians as well as taking direction from the graceful Marin Alsop was exhilarating. When I first read about Rusty Musicians, I jumped at the chance to play under Alsop’s baton. Her star just continues to rise on the international scene and Baltimore is lucky to have her.
The Rusty Musicians concert gave me the rare opportunity to take part in a low-stress situation in which I could freely make music. As mediocre as I undoubtedly was, I could relax and enjoy the experience. Not worrying about the paycheck or my long-term reputation as an artist I was able to make music as a hobby. Don’t misunderstand: I will not give up the singing life to play in community orchestras. But, I will remember how rejuvenating it feels to do something musical solely because I want to do it.
Do you still play your secondary instrument? Do you enjoy music as a hobby and music as a career? Tell me about it in the comments. And, if you’re in the Baltimore area let me know if you want to get together and jam on some awesome quartet music.
- You: BSO’s Marin Alsop, inspired by books such as ‘Change by Design’ (washingtonpost.com)
- Alsop resurrects Bernstein’s “Mass” in London (reuters.com)
- New Music at Festival, but Familiar Players (nytimes.com)