Shortly after subbing with the DSO, I returned to Knoxville to play the first masterworks of the year. The large piece on the program was Tchaikovsky 4. The performances were good, and it was interesting to play this piece from a non-principal perspective. The piece is filled with very exposed solo passages in many of the winds, and it made me think of the power a single person can have in an orchestra. Being technically proficient is one thing, but what about attitude, emotion, and everything else that makes music actually sound good? I let this marinate for a while - all the way back to Memphis.
Two days into my time back home I got an invitation to a solo violin recital being given by my good friend, Priscilla. Hearing these unaccompanied works being played so virtuosically continued my thoughts about the power of an individual. To create great music together, we must be able to create great music alone, right? That logic made sense to me until Priscilla started doing fancy double stops, plucking and bowing simultaneously, and performing musical feats that simply cannot be replicated by a solo bassoon.
I know there's some smart ass out there that has explored extended techniques and figured out a way to do more violin-type things on bassoon, but for the rest of us, what does this mean? Are some musicians destined to always play supportive roles in music? Are others supposed to take more of a leadership role, no matter what? Because I think way too much, I translate instruments into actual people and personality types. Why should someone born with a loud, trumpet-like personality be celebrated more than the person whose outgoing-ness is like a clavichord?
I read a short story during rehearsal yesterday about a high school kid who writes music, and the last note he wrote in a piece of music for a girl named Selma was described as so beautiful it'd be heard for all eternity. Selma thought it was so beautiful that she fainted and died after hearing it. So who's to blame for such a beautiful work of art - the kid who composed it or the kids that performed it? Each person in the room had something to do with the reaction, so even if we only recognize the very talented high schooler for everything, we know that the entire experience is due to the diverse experiences, strengths, and powers of the individuals. Selma will never know the shy little girl who was playing 3rd clarinet, but thank God for her!
So if the mother of the young girl who died pressed charges, who's going to jail for murder?