I’m not holding my primary instrument. As a violinist, and one of many enrolled in Penn’s Chamber ensembles, I have been offered the unique opportunity to fill in for a violist, a terrifying prospect given that the instrument is read in an entirely different clef. Nevertheless, through David’s encouragement and the support of the group, I have faced the challenge and I adapt surprisingly quickly to the qualities of the instrument, drawing on the energy of the ensemble. If not for such a supportive environment, which is so strongly maintained within each rehearsal, I would not have developed the confidence necessary to tackle such an exposing challenge at the expense of the group.
Within seconds of beginning the piece, David is on his feet, circling us and calling out dynamics, pointing out elements of phrasing, practically dancing to the tune to help us move beyond the notes on the page. We must feel both the music and each other, understand each other’s sound, and moreover, anticipate each other’s pacing as we charge through movement after movement. The hour of rehearsal seems to fly by as we take turns pairing up on passages, receiving feedback, and reinterpreting various elements of the piece. Rehearsal, after all, is more than just a chance to go through the motions. We are challenged on an intellectual, and even a philosophical level, questioning not only our relationship to the music and each other, but to the qualities we can uniquely bring out of our instruments. Our ultimate goal in this musical refuge is to find that part of each of us from with such emotion must speak, familiarize ourselves with it, and translate it into other aspects of our lives. When rehearsal is over, dictated not by the clock, but by the moment we reach a decent stopping point in the music, my spirits are refreshed and I am ready to tackle the remainder of the day.