Our soloist and leader this week is a French violinist who seems to be doing everything he can to extract musicianship from the oversized string section he's been required to use for three Bach concerti and Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Everything he says ends with an upward intonation and stress, "oK!" "We start from zee beginnING!" "I will play meajhour twentysree for YOU!" And it is always so enthusiastic, with a spritely smile. It's a lot to put together seven concerti in a little more than a day of rehearsal and with a travel-worn group. It takes a lot to be able to play all that music, and amazing to also be responsible for preparing the orchestra. And his energy and good spirit (and wonderful playing) is going a long way.
Despite that–and perhaps because of the current lethargy of the group in contrast to the spontaneous and lively energy of our leader–coming back to the orchestra feels admittedly a little stale. I wonder about this way of making music for me, about the notion of being a section player. And likely it is the contrast of having just been in America, of having played a solo recital and on a radio program, of having interacted with a group of people with diverse interests. It strikes me that at least in this orchestra, there is very little additional outlet for people to express themselves, to develop in a creative way, or have an individual identity. And egos seem to be bouncing off the restrictive walls, trying to be in the center of attention or at the very least, to be worthy of survival. Survival, but even this doesn't seem to be a thriving existence.
Next week, the whole orchestra will have a break (minus the two people in the percussion section who will be doing a chamber music concert). And perhaps people will have a chance to reconnect with something important to them, to reestablish, to recoup. It seems so important to have this space, a space that is safe and free from others, that belongs only to oneself. And in an orchestra, especially one of this nature, especially on tour, it can be a challenge to find it.
It's interesting to be back in this close-knit world. It's a rare place, and I think there is a lot to learn from it.