Sunday, July 20, 2014

Music of Gratitude: Beethoven

Last night's concert was a wonderful experience. Before we played Beethoven's Sixth Symphony our conductor Kevin Kelly mentioned to the audience how grateful he was to have enjoyed 18 seasons of the Prairie Ensemble in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The orchestra's response, prompted by Beethoven, was one of collective musical gratitude (felt by everyone in the room) in this Symphony that is really "about" gratitude. I had never thought of the piece that way before, and after last night I will never think of it without feelings of extreme gratitude for being able to make music in this most pastoral of prairies.

[I will even forgive Beethoven for the viola passage at letter K of the last movement, which last night happened to go pretty well.]

I'm grateful that we could put such a difficult program together on three three-hour rehearsals (and the last run-through of the Beethoven during the last 45 minutes of the rehearsal on the morning of the concert on a collective empty stomach). I'm grateful for the chance to fret and sweat over difficult passages and to have wonderful people to play with who bring an equal amount of integrity to the rehearsal process.

It was the last concert for the Prairie Ensemble, but the tradition of this kind of music making goes backwards and sideways in time in all directions. We know it when we find it, and, with hope we will find it again.

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