Last night I went to another Civic concert, this time with Bernard Haitink conducting Schubert's Unfinished and David Afkham, this really young guy who I believe studies under Haitink, conducting Strauss' Death and Transfiguration. It was wonderful to see Haitink conduct, because he's amazingly wonderful and energetic, but it also made me a little sad. Just last year I played Shostakovitch 10 with him, and it was one of the best musical experiences I've ever had; it's hard to explain, but sometimes a really good conductor can win your heart and soul with the first downbeat. So it was hard to take my place as an observer rather than I performer, and I was jealous of the energy and joy that I assumed the musicians on stage were feeling.
As I sat in the audience, enjoying the music, I was increasingly distracted by the larger implications of this feeling. I think it was maybe the first time I truly realized what I may be giving up. Even though I plan to continue playing, it's highly unlikely that I will play with Haitink, and perhaps anyone of his caliber, in an orchestral situation again. In fact, once I move to Denver, what orchestral playing am I really going to be able to drum up for myself? I don't know the situation, but playing in community orchestras or paying-but-terrible gigs just isn't the same. (Music for money does not equal music for pleasure in most situations.) By moving, I'm really effectively cutting many of my remaining musical ties. From here on, it's likely that I'll spend most of my time as an observer rather than as a performer.
I know that it doesn't have to be this way, but in some ways it also kind of does. If I try to continue playing in any sort of serious way, it might actually hamper my ability to move on and figure something else out. I can't be a part-time musician for the rest of my life, because I don't think I can personally balance that with being a full-time anything else. If I want to move forward, I'm probably going to have to give most of this up. And even though I hope to replace it with something good, that's still a bitter thought.