When I go home or talk to friends, I feel like they think I live such a glamorous life playing with a full time orchestra. While I’m oh so grateful for every ounce of my fellowship, it can really be lonesome and even tough sometimes, and late last week those two things came together, leaving me feeling completely defeated.
Wagner is a composer very famous for his operas (amongst other more controversial things) and the DSO performed two short vocal pieces by him on last week’s “Classical Roots” concert. In the bassoon world, we all understand that playing 2nd bassoon on anything by Wagner is typically a challenge because it’s so low and soft, and sure enough I was bestowed the honor of struggling below the staff. I’m fine with my performance overall, but because it didn’t feel comfortable or “easy” I started to get the feeling of defeat – the feeling that I’m just not good enough to do this. Moreover, I started to get rather lonely and I missed Andy and the rest of my friends terribly. Don’t get me wrong, I know folks here and have people that I would even consider friends, but it can never be the same as the deep rooted sisterhoods I have elsewhere. It’s also tough being seen as JUST the fellow, rather than a member of the orchestra, despite its being temporary. I seriously considered the idea of leaving the orchestra after this season.
This week, Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” was on the docket, as well as Dvorak’s 8th symphony. Because the Stravinsky is so big there are a lot of subs and extra musicians, so I pull into rehearsal on Tuesday to see my parking space taken. By the time I made it on stage, I noticed that I didn’t have a reed desk OR an instrument stand for the contrabassoon I had to play. Needless to say I was annoyed, and this further entrenched my decision to leave. As we played through Stravinsky, I noticed that even though I was on an instrument I’m not used to playing, it felt very natural, and much easier than Wagner. Furthermore, I was by no means the least prepared (but I won’t name any sections or individuals in particular, haha). This lightened my mood, but I still wasn’t very happy with my situation in general. After the break we moved on to Dvorak, and when we got to the 3rd movement of this symphony my mood was flipped completely around. The first theme sounded very melancholic and retrospective, which turns hopeful and a little brighter in the trio. The coda is much faster and even “happier” than the material that preceded it, and it reminded me of how everyone I love will always be there, even if I’m far away. After playing through the movement completely, I decided that I will not run from this battle. The music was just so beautiful and there's no way I could not be a part of something like that for as long as possible. There will be ups and downs in my career, but never utter defeats - I won't allow it. Being defeated is a state of mind – not a circumstance.
The bassoon section officially voted to renew my contract for a second season, and I’m looking forward to having job security for at least one more year, as well as the ability to both take auditions and visit Memphis regularly. Watch the webcast tonight at 8 PM EST at dso.org/live for a great performance (and the rare chance to see me play a contrabassoon, lol)! Yes, Rite of Spring is everything, but don’t overlook the Dvorak – this piece single handedly kept me going and gave me the drive to continue fulfilling my destiny.
Andy spent his spring break with me all week, and this is a #picstitch of us having some Chicago style pizza in Greektown, Detroit.