18 July 2013

A bit of the Orchestra I play with

Occasionally I get questions about playing with an orchestra, how do I do it, where do I do it, why and so forth. I am not going to answer those questions right now, but partly because of the piece posted on Cyprian Consiglio and references to his music as a piece of his Camaldolese life, and partly because I recently referred to the problem people have understanding this part of my life in the Saturday Evening Post article, I wanted to give folks a taste of the amateur orchestra I do play with. (We all have day jobs, mostly NOT in music, and rehearse one evening a week; we play four sets per school year.) Last season (just finished in June) I missed both of these concerts (and most of the rehearsals!) due to illness, but here is the Oakland Civic Orchestra with movements from two of my favorite symphonies. Ordinarily I would be sitting in the second or third stand of the first violin section or playing principal second. In these concerts I would have been playing first violin.

One blog post I put up last year or the year before referred to working on a Beethoven Symphony; I was trying to illustrate what life in the hermitage was like --- the intensity and struggle, the work, the community, the solitude, the not-so-occasional "failures" or falling short, the life giving quality and the joy of it all. You can find that piece here: Notes From Stillsong Hermitage: On Struggle, Peace, and Authenticity in Eremitical Vocations. These are the people and this is the orchestra I had in mind in the following passage:

[[The hermitage is the place one lives in a conscious way and as constantly as one is able before the face or gaze of God. That is, at once, both a wonderfully affirming and recreating, and a terribly demanding task and experience. All of those things which prevent us from loving well, all of those things which have wounded and distorted us as human beings eventually must be worked through here. Union with God is the primary goal of the hermitage to which all else is ordered; it is the reason hermitages exist, and while this does not mean a stress-filled vocation, it does indicate an intense one. For me it is akin to playing a Beethoven symphony with an orchestra: we work and work intensely --- individually, together in sectionals, with and without the conductor, with the whole orchestra in ways which are physically, intellectually, and emotionally exhausting, and yet, the invigoration and sheer re-creative power of the work is awesome. When the music is allowed to come to life through this orchestra, and through (for instance) my own heart, mind, and muscles as a functioning part of this orchestra, the experience is indescribably exhilarating and joyful even as it exhausts. Life in the hermitage is like that.]]