Symphony Time!

Wow! What can I say… I had the great privilege to accompany the South Bend Youth Symphony (SBYSO) in their Spring concert where they played the last three movements of the Lord of The Rings movie score.

A little over two weeks prior to the concert, while I was waiting in line at the Secretary of State for my new drivers license, I received a Facebook message from my friend John Kennedy. He was asking if I would be interested in an opportunity to play with the SBYSO. Of course I was! So, he forwarded my name along to the conductor, who immediately sent me an email asking if we could talk. Since the wait for my license was already over an hour with a long line still in front of me, I called him right away.

The score of the symphony had a few hammered dulcimer parts that he assured me weren’t too difficult, but were key to the overall music. I was both excited about the opportunity but afraid I wouldn’t be to pull it together in such short time. I gave him a tentative yes, but wanted to look a the music and hear the pieces first before I could truly commit. He sent me a Youtube link to the music and a pdf of the score. It looked doable, was going to be a challenge, but I told him yes.

The next two weeks, I practiced along with the recording every day. As it turns out, I only had two rehearsals with the Symphony prior to the concert. The first one was difficult, but I got through it okay and the dress rehearsal went just fine. I was ready and now really looking forward to the concert.

The morning of the concert, I got everything together, packed the car early and even got to the Debartolo Performing Arts Center extra early. I wanted to make sure the dulcimer was out and acclimatized, tuned and ready in plenty of time. BUT….. as I unpacked everything, and WAS MISSING MY MUSIC!!!! Somehow it never made it into my dulcimer case.

In a panic, I ran around to see if the Symphony had copies of the music…nope. I had a pdf version of it, so I asked a number of people in the DPAC to see if there was a printer available that I could print it…nope. I had it on my phone, but that was WAY too small to see and to flip through a 50 page score. Carla ran out to the car and got our mini-tab computer. At least an 6.5 inch screen was better than a phone. As the first act of the concert started playing, I was still struggling to get the pdf downloaded to the tab, standing back stage, pacing, swearing, feeling like crap. How could I be so foolish…

Seriously, not 5 minutes before the first act ended, I was finally successful in getting the file on the tab and had it ready. It didn’t have my notes all over the music that I had taken during the rehearsals, but I knew my parts well, so I would have to make the best of it. There was a few minutes as they reset the stage for the SBYSO where I was able to get my mind in the right place and calm down a bit. A few reassuring messages from Carla on my phone, and I was ready again.

The auditorium was sold out, the stage full of very talented youth musicians and a couple of us older folks in support. The choir loft was full of about 150 youth singers from both the Notre Dame children’s choir and the Penn Harris Madison high school. The conductor entered the stage, my tab computer glowing on my music stand, the music began flowing beautifully from the students. About 30 seconds in to the first piece was my most exposed dulcimer part. The tension raising, my mind focused on counting the measures to my entrance. There it was, I began, playing with ease, wondering if I was loud enough. Did I enter too fast? Was the roll on the notes crisp enough, long enough? My part was over and a quick smiling glance from the conductor as he moved on with the piece. Success!

I had a few others parts throughout the score, played the bodhran in support of the percussion section in other parts and had a wonderful time making music with them. All went well, the symphony played marvelously and the choir added the finishing touches. I was completely honored to be invited and a part of such a grand event. It was an experience I will not forget…for a number of reasons. 🙂

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