First Day of Playing 3/24

Steven Z -

Getting back from my college/conservatory auditions in early March, I immediately got started with my volunteering commitment. Even so, I was already three weeks behind my peers.

My work began on March 11. My first day was at Inspira Gateway, a retirement community that only recently opened. People curiously looked up from their lunch. The volunteer coordinator introduced me to everyone, and I was about to get ready to play when I realized I forgot to bring a music stand.

That’s okay. I had some pieces memorized for my auditions. After a moment of tuning and silence, I started with the Prelude from Bach’s second cello suite. Curiously, this was usually the last piece I played in my auditions. I always started my auditions with my concerto, which I felt more comfortable with. But I had enough discretion to not play that here at the retirement community during a peaceful lunch.

As I started with the first three notes of the Prelude, outlining its tonic D minor, I regretted my choice. There’s nothing wrong with D minor, needless to say. But it felt as though I was teleported back to my auditions. Here I was again confronted with this feeling of sailing into a roaring hurricane on a leaky boat, with the shore growing ever more distant.

This Prelude feels like a search: starting in a comfortable place, but leaving it immediately to explore the most distant harmonies, and gradually finding its way back home, fingers crossed. I messed it up at a competition a few months back, and it’s haunted me ever since. But this time I played it through unscathed.

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