Saturday, April 18, 2009

circle of fifths

Lately my orchestra rehearsals have been full of music I first learned when I was fourteen or fifteen, which is kind of crazy. It feels kind of circular. I spent all afternoon yesterday playing Brahms' Academic Festival Overture (a very fun piece based on German drinking songs, I believe, and which I first played at All-State when I was a freshman in high school) and then moved on to a Civic rehearsal where we played Dvorak's 8th symphony, which I'm pretty sure I played the last movement of in 8th grade. Seriously. I'm also playing Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony right now (sophomore All-State and at Interlochen when I was 18, and maybe at least once more that I can't currently remember) and Strauss' Don Juan (which I abhor because I've been playing it for auditions since I was 19 or so, and which we played in Civic last year). The only new piece I'm playing is Stravinsky's violin concerto. What the hell? There are so many pieces I haven't played, and I seem to be stuck on repeat.
It's not all bad, because every piece is weighted with the memories of when I played it before. It's so much fun to play, say, the last movement of the Tchaikovsky because I totally kicked that piece's ass when I was 16 and the memory of being joyously in control of it is still powerful. Being completely down with a piece, knowing how it sounds and where I play and how to make it good, feels great. It's one of my favorite parts of being an orchestral musician. It's also amazing how much I remember. I know I've played the Brahms overture since I was 15, but I'm still surprised at how well I just... know it. I know exactly what should be happening pretty much all the time, how things fit, what I should be playing. It's kind of weird, like somewhere in my head there are zillions of orchestral pieces just hidden away in their entirety, waiting to cycle around and back into my life.

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