Meet the conductor
I felt a lunge of panic as I stepped into the rehearsal room. People who came filing out smiled at me because they knew in a week, I’d be performing with them. They were all professional players in the orchestra. I felt even more nervous when I spotted the conductor, the chief conductor of Shanghai Opera House, who was one of the most famous conductors in China. His name was Cao Ding 曹丁. When he saw me, he smiled a very warm smile which almost made me relax. ALMOST.
“Let’s start with me hearing you play.” The conductor said. I sat down on the piano bench and started to play. As my fingers and music started to flow, and my heart flew with it. Before I knew it, I was done. I realized that he was gazing at me the whole 30 minutes while I was playing my piano concerto. Our smiles met. After a few seconds, my mom broke our smile and asked “So should she make any changes?” Startled, he said “Oh, what? Oh not really. I think she’s really good. Just a few things here and there…” He pointed at my music “And it will be perfect.” Closing his eyes he said “When I close my eyes, it doesn’t sound like a 9 yr old playing.” We thanked him gratefully and left.
As I was leaving the building, I thought to myself, the start of my adventure has just begun!
The First Rehearsal
Now I was used to the location, and had a faint idea of the whole setting. I sat down on the side and waited impatiently. Then, my conductor came over to me and told us about the preparation of all the rehearsals and performance. Out of nowhere, the first violin called that the first rehearsal would begin.
Suddenly, I was so nervous that I actually found the carpet’s pattern very interesting. But I silently obeyed. I walked over, my legs trembling and not knowing what to do. I sat down on the piano bench and looked at the conductor. The First Violin smiled and asked if I could introduce myself. I stood up, but looked at my mom, not so sure. This was because everyone was looking at me and I could tell they were thinking in their heads about how cute I was and such. (You know how adults think about you when you are shy.) So I just stared helplessly at my mom. Soon, everyone got the message that I didn’t want to speak, so the conductor introduced me to the orchestra. Relieved, I sat down and waited. The conductor smiled at me one last time as my first piano rehearsal started.
As I could see, their first sight reading was pretty good. (After all, they are professionals.) During the rehearsal, I noticed that the conductor was saying interesting points like “Mozart is not the winter wind!” He was practically DANCING when he got into the music. I was extremely glad that I finally did it at the end. ‘I made it!’ I thought as I gathered my music and strode proudly out of the room.
The Second Rehearsal
This rehearsal was really the last one, but there is a run-through on stage afterwards. Anyway, this time I wasn’t of the tiniest bit afraid I would mess up. Instead, I walked straight up to the piano and started to warm up my fingers with no hesitation. As we started, the conductor smiled at me once again and I thought how silly I was to not to introduce myself before. Suddenly, the conductor laughed and everyone was smiling at me and staring at me. I probably was day-dreaming again. The conductor changed his expression and nodded at me as the orchestra started to play.
The rehearsal went by smoothly and we only had to repeat the concerto once. This time, the people in the orchestra played a whole lot better. I can tell they put their effort in and practiced a lot. I loved playing with the orchestra because when I play with them, my piece goes more fluently. Some people would rather do something else, like playing with a smaller chamber group but I much prefer playing with the orchestra.
We arrived at the concert hall, JUST IN TIME. I walked carefully into the backstage hallways. I walked with the hostess and looked for my changing room. We were so busy that as we walked, we almost forgot that the lights were getting darker and darker.
We heard a man humming. It was a janitor. He spotted us with his flashlight and asked if we needed assistance. The hostess answered with a nod of her head. Then she told the janitor we were looking for the greenroom. He nodded and turned on the lights. Soon enough, we were all squinting. When I saw the label on the door, I gasped in surprise. There on the door were the letters VIP.
“Really?” I exclaimed, wide-eyed, “I’m a Very Important Person?” The Janitor came up and said “Of course you’re a VIP,” He said, “You have the entire half of the show to yourself!” I blushed happily and ran in the room. Then, after getting dressed, we headed into the stage. We ran through the piece one last, final time, and left.
The Real Performance
The evening of August 8, 2010. We went back to the concert hall from dinner break again for the concert after run through. Dragging the hostess, I sprinted to my dressing room, where I got my make-up on and my dress on.
Then, it was show time!
We trotted down the hall to backstage, wondering about how I was going to play. As always, mommy and I prayed together hands by hands.
As I walked through the door, I found a chair and sat down. I was shivering, with both fear and excitement. Finally, it was time! I took a deep breath and held my head high as I made my way on the stage.
My hands turned pale with purple veins showing through. I made it through the First Movement. There only two more movements to go. I sighed a breath of relief. Then I kept on going. Soon, I felt like I was a part of the music. Then, it was over!!! Completed!!!! I smiled broadly at the audience. I shook the conductor’s and the first Violin’s hands. I nodded in gratefulness as I received large banquets of flowers. I held my chest high and walked proudly of the stage. I believe my God answered our prayers!
As I walked off the stage, the audience was shouting “Encore! Encore!” I smiled as I walked back on stage. I bowed, and played Chopin Fantasia Impromptu. Now, usually, the conductor goes off stage. But this conductor, this very conductor, had stayed on stage for me!
I was so pleased that when I played, I played to dedicate it to him. The uproar of the audience came. I gave the conductor a grateful smile and hopped off the stage.