Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Orchestra Newsletter article part 2 - Senior Perspective

Late Night Reminiscences on Playing in the Cornell Symphony Orchestra

Sometimes, it feels as if we had just finished rehearsing Beethoven's Coriolan Overture. The c minor chord that opens the piece and represents our tragic hero's resolve still plays itself in my memory. I arrived at Cornell the same year Chris began his tenure as conductor of the Cornell Symphony Orchestra. Bailey Hall was still in renovation at the time, and so I played my first concerts with the orchestra in Ford Hall at Ithaca College. I remember the other concerts we performed too: one in the stifling heat of Helen Newman Hall for the First Year Family Weekend concert, a stint at the Johnson Museum, where a group of us played Riley's In C (my first experience with aleatoric music), and Sierra's Concerto for Saxophones at Ithaca High School.

I was then sorely disappointed during spring pre-enrollment when I realized that there was no way I could play in orchestra during the coming year because of scheduling conflicts. It was a difficult year. Without the motivation of orchestra, I found it increasingly difficult to find time to practice the violin. But the year ended, and I spent the summer bringing my violin playing back up to par in anticipation of the next orchestra season. My second season with the orchestra coincided with my third year at Cornell, and, writing now as a senior, I can say it was my best year at Cornell ever.

Besides another year of great repertoire, the orchestra had the chance to go on tour to perform in Berlin. More important than the allure of traveling to Europe, the tour was a great bonding opportunity for the orchestra. I'll never forget waking up at 8 AM to explore the city until night, staying up obscenely late to play card games with friends until sheer exhaustion set in, then repeating the cycle again the next day. Berlin remains one of my fondest memories of orchestra, and it was the place where many of my lasting orchestra friendships were made.

Although it has been an extremely busy semester for me so far (then again, does the opposite even exist here at Cornell?), I am always uplifted by the fact that every Monday and Wednesday night, I have a chance to forget my work, take out my violin, and sit down and simply play music for two hours. It has always been an oasis in my day-to-day work schedule. But with one great regret do I graduate from Cornell and depart from orchestra: I will not be staying for one more year, so that I can end my Cornell Symphony Orchestra career playing under Chris's baton and tour Spain with my friends in orchestra.
-Adrian So '08

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