Did you know that I play the cello? More like played these days since my right shoulder seized up last year – but yes, I am a classically trained musician in cello (and piano). Although I do not play in an orchestra anymore, I did for a number of years with the Kanata Symphony, Symphony Hamilton and the Mississauga Youth Orchestra. I only recently decided to not return to Kanata Symphony as I chose to focus on coaching track instead. Prior to moving to Ottawa, I was a member of Symphony Hamilton. That orchestra taught me so much in the two years that I was involved with it. It was a semi-pro orchestra that played some pretty heavy duty works including The Firebird Suite. a Mahler Symphony, and Adagio for Strings. Those pieces are not easy – I remember being so peeved that someone was talking in the audience while we were preforming Adagio for Strings because it took so much concentration to play that piece properly. I don’t think I will ever play those types of pieces ever again. Anyways, my right shoulder majorly seized up last year, making playing very difficult and because of Max and track, I just cannot go anymore. The door isn’t fully shut – I just don’t have time for it anymore.
When I was in high school, I was a member of the Mississauga Youth Orchestra. I remember the day I auditioned for the main orchestra, I had a soccer game prior, and completed my audition in full out soccer gear. I was one of the few members who did not start playing at an early age – a fact that was pointed out that first year when the conductor noted to the entire audience about my improvements during the course of the year.
During my first year with the main orchestra we traveled to Ottawa for a festival. We played at the National Arts Centre, and took classes with some members of the NAC Orchestra. It was a really great trip! It was an experience playing on the NAC stage – especially when I made a huge mistake in the middle of one of the pieces – whoops!
But that wasn’t the highlight (lowlight?) of my trip to Ottawa. During one of our orchestra sessions, my friends and I became a little bored. The thing with playing the same piece over and over again, is that you just don’t want to play it any more after the 100th time. I couldn’t take sitting in my chair anymore, so a few of us decided to switch instruments for a bit. Our switch was as follows: I was to play the violin, the violist was to play my cello, and the violinist was to take the Viola. Obviously, the biggest switch would be me on the violin and my friend on my cello because of the need to completely change how you are used to holding an instrument.
The piece we were playing was March Slave by Tchaikovsky. We were playing with three other orchestras and being conducted by some conductor from Julliard School in New York City. Since I had been playing this piece for months, I knew the whole piece, in and out – not just for the cello part, but the whole orchestra. So – pretending to play the violin wasn’t that big of a deal as I already knew the violin part (in my head). My friend playing my cello on the other hand – he didn’t look too good. My friend was almost six feet tall and did not know how to sit with the cello at all. So – looking all silly – he was busted by the conductor and told (in front of everyone) to “smarten up, I’m not sure what you are playing, but it isn’t right”.
By this time, I was in hysterics in the violin section, as were all of my friends who thought this was the best thing ever. I continued to ‘fake play’ which apparently wasn’t all that good because my hand that was on the finger board was apparently in the complete wrong position.
But it gets better – while I was playing, I noticed someone looking at me on the sidelines. It happened to be my cello teacher, who was also the cello coach AND our conductor for our trip because our head conductor couldn’t be there. He was sitting there just staring at me with a smile. Busted.
Or so I thought – apparently he thought that I just *looked* like me. After the break, we went back to our actually instruments as my friend had enough of playing the cello. We all had a good laugh about it later and it brought some smiles on a very boring day. Afterwards we went on a tour of Ottawa – and then we all watched ER as George Clooney was rumored to be returning to the show that night. Funny how I can remember that kind of stuff.
About five years later – I had to take a Strings Education class in Teacher’s college and actually learned how to play the violin properly. No more fake playing for me!
Do you play an instrument?
Have you seen an orchestra perform before?