I played in a chamber music concert yesterday. One of the pieces was the premiere of a wind quintet by a local composer. It was contemporary–not atonal, but not like Mozart where you know exactly where it’s going. If you get lost playing Mozart, you can regroup pretty quickly. This composition was more fluid, with meter and tempo changes that made it unpredictable.
A couple of minutes into the first movement, the work began to sound a little more contemporary than it was supposed to. When I looked at the oboe player’s face, it confirmed that the train had jumped the track. They had no idea where they were, and none of them were in the same location. After they finished, rather than leaving the stage, they asked the audience if they might play it again, so we could hear the work as it was meant to be.
It was a ballsy move. It would have been a lot easier to pretend all was well and leave the stage. The audience wouldn’t have known the difference. They’d never heard it before.
The group played it again, and the audience applauded. They lauded the composer and the musicians felt proud of their performance. I didn’t see it as a failure, but a success. The fact that they struggled made the performance that much more poignant.
Sometimes I treat life like a performance. I made a mistake? Just keep moving. That decision is done, the moment is over, and I can’t go back and ask for a second shot.
Or can I?
I won’t know if I don’t try. Perhaps the world is a more forgiving and accepting place than I believe. Maybe I can ask for patience and try again–to play my part the way it was intended to be.
My career as a writer has had many stops and starts. Sometimes I feel like the world is saying “Haven’t you been here before?” But maybe the world isn’t. Maybe it’s only me. So I begin again, and hope to find applause at the finish line, even if it’s only my own. To amend the saying, it’s not over until the diva sings, and I’m not close to done, so get some popcorn and settle in.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph “Applause” by Svenwerk ©2007 Creative Commons