Hemingway was once challenged to write a compelling story in just six words. The result? “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Had Ernest observed the National Youth Orchestra during the early 1960s, his story would more likely have illustrated the grace-under-pressure dynamic of modern musical creation. And if he were to observe it today, his six words could probably be reduced to just one: “Wow.”
The past weeks, if any of us could believe that’s what it’s been, were rife with adventure, musical and otherwise. At the half-way point of this session it seems appropriate to capture some of the oft-forgot feats of non-orchestral excellence reached by members of this charmed ensemble.
At the risk of repetition from previous entries, my life was changed in every possible sense by our recent NYOC Idol contest. Unfailingly prepared for a battle of musical wits, the harps and keyboard gave an inspired performance of what you might call “thunder from down under” which was yet wholly exceeded by such performances as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for 8 double basses, and an original arrangement of Thriller for 4 percussionists and contemporary dancer that have left me dictating this blog to scribes from musically-induced coma under my Brian Johnson wig.
Notable in this issue of the sports page would no doubt be the stellar daily performances of the NYOC Running Team coached by TSO Principal Percussionist John Rudolph. Closely observed daily matches have catapulted the NYO Ultimate Frisbee team to number one in the world among Canadian youth orchestras. In other news, word has it that Alain Trudel is a surprisingly good ping-pong player. I’m absolutely certain there is nothing this man cannot do.
More recently, this morning I was not only star-struck by the appearance of soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian but I was asked to play for her piano rehearsal with Maestro Trudel. Talk about a privilege. I would need much more than a blog to describe the excitement of that musical experience and so many others. “There’s no experience like experience,” says Alain with a grin. How true.
As an aside, I was asked to comment on the pair of white cut-off gloves that audiences of the Bernstein Symphonic Dances From the West-Side Story will observe on the hands of the NYOC pianist. They not only keep my hands warm and allow me to glissando up and down the keyboard with absolute ease, but they look great. I’m told they also serve as a sort of homage to that King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Until next time as we say here, take care of yourselves… and each other.