A Surreal Moment
They say (whoever “they” are, I really don’t know) there are moments in your life when you catch a glimpse of Heaven. It is apparently when you are shown, for just a brief moment, all the good you have done and are given a reminder that it has all been worth it. Well, I guess tonight I had one of those moments.
It was another winter concert with Travelers Chorale at the Bushnell. Another performance. I have lost count of the number of performances that we have had to this point. It is almost an expectation! Over 100 members, all taking the stage this afternoon for dress rehearsal #1, dress rehearsal #2 this evening, and took the stage for the performance shortly afterwards. That is okay, but frankly, if I could have stayed home on this very cold night then I would have. However, I could not. I can not. Everyone counts on each other; that is one of the beauties of putting together music. Anyway, we quickly ran through the tunes we would play combined with our guest orchestra. And that was that. For us, it is not about an ensemble. A lot of musicians I know and work with would kill me for saying that (sorry, but not sorry!). For us, it is about getting together again, telling stories, and yes, doing your best to throw down a tune and being able to laugh about it when something silly happens.
And that is what today turned into … fairly quickly!
The show was amazing. We did a great performance and it certainly was an attempt at new music. The combined tunes went just as planned. In short, the performance was no different than any other. The Bushnell had every seat filled. Hard to imagine we sold out to over 3,000 people. The performance was fantastic. However, there was something different about this show we did from all the other shows since I have worked with Travelers Chorale. We did not do an encore tune that allowed the choir to exit the stage and come down in the aisles to sing near the audience spread out through the entire venue. Instead, we simply finished the show. The audience left.
And that is when the oddest thing I have ever experienced happened. I was on stage facing the audience and I looked down to the pit area below the stage and watched each and every orchestra member enter the pit. Each person had to duck down in order to avoid hitting their head on the stone bricks above them. And as each person entered the pit, they would raise their head, smile from ear to ear, briefly look left and right for their friends, and smile bigger as they began to play through music.
No conductor. No audience. No none of us (well, except me because I had to finish loading gear in my car). Interestingly, it was unreal and surreal at the same time.
As I watched, I started to cry. This does not happen often with me. However, at that moment, I watched well over 75 people play beautiful pieces when no one even was asked to play them. I was overcome with emotion because I knew how they felt. Their love for the sounds of the music they were playing meant much more to them than getting a paycheck and leaving. They were not looking up at me–not in the least. None of them made eye contact. None of them made eye contact with me considering I was one of the last people to finish packing up my stuff before staff personnel helped me load stuff in my car that was parked backstage in the “star lot.” Instead, they were looking at the people around them.
And for a moment, I thought:
Is this what Heaven will be? Is this what I will see one day? All the people whose lives crossed my path entering a little stage hoping to find the people they love, that if not for music and just friendship and life journeys in general they never would have known?
It was not an ego moment. It was a feeling that overwhelmed me to the core.
For but a moment, I was given a gift. A gift that said:
Realize for once that what you do matters. Not as an artist, but as a human being. You bring other people together to be something bigger than themselves through something called ‘band.’ Know it. Own it. Keep doing it.
For but a brief moment, I was given a gift this evening.
It was a gift that made me take a quick inventory of my life.
And I am forever grateful.
We had a great show last night. I am now currently on the train heading to Philadelphia to meet Dr. Broadnax, settle in downtown, and begin the weekend of excitement as we are preparing my piece for its premiere Sunday night! It will be nice to also meet Eric Sessler finally! I have been dying to meet him for a while. Anyone in the band world knows who he is. Very thankful to be continuing my work and networking with some of the best.
I am indeed … forever grateful.