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Week of March 25th

Hi my Alto Flutes, French Horns, Sarrusophones, Glass Armonicas, Marzipans... TUBAS!

One of those is not an instrument but it should be. I went to the symphony last week, nothing too heavy handed (just Tchaikovsky) and it was magic. The magic happened pretty instantly too. I have to admit when I was invited it wasn't like I wasn't interested, but I could go either way. There were the expected things that happened. I definitely stuck out in that crowd. Knew that was going to happen. Giggling, whispering, sidebar comments under your breath are definitely looked down upon. Knew that was going to happen. In my case, I got a head whipped back, with fire throwing eyeballs, that looked me up and down. Knew that was going to happen. Each piece was really long and powerful. Knew that was going to happen.


What I didn't know was how much I was going to be taken aback by the visual of it. The visual synchronicity paired with the auditory synchronicity. I thought one would distract the other but I have to say all the details that go into staging, wardrobe, posture, positioning were very intentional. Each musician was dressed in black, down to the socks and ties, as to make it a point for their sparkly instruments to shine. They also sat without a single natural curve to the spine, as chair-like as the chair they sat on. The human body was merely a stand for their precious counterpart. Then the faces, every age and every ethnicity and every shape. However, in all of them there was not a trace of panic, confusion, or hesitation. Even the youngest face up there had years of confidence.

A professional orchestra practices 20 hours per week, morning, night, weekends, and holidays. By the time it's curtain call they are already primed and polished. Without much rehearsal needed, they can communicate seamlessly to each other without speaking. I also didn't expect so much power to come out of silence, and the lather. So much silence to come out of power. When you see a sea of string instruments and the tip of the wand, not wand ... bow! A sea of bows moving like a perfect tide, lifting, lowering, and quivering. Usually with those numbers you expect high volume. You assume a lifted suspended wave is followed by a roar, a boom, a crash. In this case it was so silky, delicate, and controlled. Almost like the sound of wind on a sailboat. How can something so fast and powerful be so quiet? Obviously, there were loud moments- especially if that tuba in the back has a say. But, it's still so controlled and poised. Every note sounds so well intentioned and good mannered. Unlike that snort-giggling imposter sitting in my seat. 

Lastly, I didn't know how fast time would fly. My main worry about going to the symphony was my ability to sit still. I didn't even notice sitting, or standing, or time. The music (sounds so tacky but it's true) makes you feel like you're moving and traveling. Which is why it's so fitting each musical piece is called a movement. All together it was such a gorgeous experience.

In stark contrast to the symphony my family was in town the same week. Heading into their visit I had an image of how it will probably play out. I have to admit I was hoping it would be much like the symphony, where obviously I would be the conductor. I would lead the parents to my favorite places doing my favorite things. Host the whole family at my house where conversations would be meaningful, moments would breathe, meals would have a beginning and an end. There would obviously be highs and lows but I saw even these moments as poised and predictable. Carried with good manners just like the symphony notes. What I realized though, in hindsight of course, that these are truly the stupidest expectations. 


Families do not have 20+ hours of rehearsals every week before they get together. We do not synchronize perfectly visually and audibly. Our instruments are not primed and polished going into it. We definitely can't communicate seamlessly without speaking. In fact, if my family was a symphony the horn section would be in the front. There would be no conductor. We'd forgo a bow and play the violin like a guitar. The theremin would have solo with the tuba interjecting.  A weird ringing sound would be coming from some commotion in the back of the stage because my mom is trying to find her phone. The only way you know "the movement" was over was because it's past everyone's bedtime and the organ player's head fell asleep on the keys. So everyone exits to a relentless baritone honk... like a car alarm left on. 


Unlike the symphony, the experience of my family being in town wasn't exactly instantly magic. However, there were some magical moments and overall slow evolving magic happening under the surface. An imperfect unrehearsed symphony that we're all clumsily navigating. Less balanced andante and just a running sentence.  Even though it's not a perfect symphony, I've embraced the fact it's MY symphony.  One that does not give dirty looks or judges the odd ducks in the room. One that actually encourages giggling, snorting, and sidebar commentary. Where there is an encore for all the theramins and tubas in the world. 



 Excited to make your bodies sweat, smile, and embrace unplanned "movement." 





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