A Concert in Tenafly



I was second on the program for the Schubert trio and last for the Mozart Quartet on the program. Having to enter stage so quickly, I felt like I was just dumped into sizzling water, grabbed out of it, and then stuck into icy water! I’ve never been so nervous because I was never put into the program that early in my whole entire life!  I thought perhaps that my string of good luck would split, creating memories of despair.

In my mind I was telling myself that this piece wasn’t the most difficult piece I’ve EVER played but the voice of my dad kept saying: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE SCHUBERT! I was troubled just like the cellist was who was playing in my piece, as she kept complaining to me that she would kill herself and vomit on stage if she’d play a wrong note. Well, lucky for her, because she would find out how well she’d play very soon. I shoved my head forward to see what my friend Mark had to say about his feelings since he was participating in my piece, too, playing the violin. He was surprisingly calm, and reassured me, saying “You’re a genius, as I’ve noticed in your past concerts, so you’re going to beat the crap out of that crumby piano!”

I was feeling chilly which was surprising to me since almost everybody that wasn’t performing was complaining it was hot. This was one of the factors that made me extremely nervous because my hand would be so cold that it would be paralyzed pretty badly. After the camp director’s announcements about us “gifted kids”, the music began: the first piece ended with a deep chord. My group looked at each other and our cellist suppressed a whine. It was our turn to show the audience what intense piece we had been working on together and at least, well, maybe I wouldn’t let people down, but I seemed to have lost my enthusiasm.


We arranged ourselves in the specific order to go on stage: violinist, cellist, pianist. I really had to be last? Not that it mattered a lot but I had an unusual tingling sensation. Was it because I felt that the order was so stiff and in a “had to be done” sort of manner that I was totally frightened about one wrong move?  Maybe, but to put it fair and square, since I thought I would play badly, the last thing I wanted to remember was this performance!

We seemed to silently crawl on stage but at the same time my shoes made the loudest noise in history! Clop, clop, clop, etc. We bowed, not very special since I do it all the time. That’s when I saw the stage lights shining in my face like boiling suns. Probably it was just the feeling of being on stage, I told my suntanned brain. Suddenly it gave me the signal that it was being scorched and told me to hurry up with my piece so it wouldn’t melt into flames.

“Tune, you stupid!”

I pressed down the middle A ivory key and the tones that came out of the string players made the hairs growing out of my brain stand up.  Now, were they were out of tune! Imagine listening to them squeaking, screeching, and so on, with me mentally struggling to concentrate except, well, twenty times worse! It’s not that I’m bragging but that’s pretty much how it is when ye got perfect pitch. Oh ye of little faith. At least they were correcting their tone to about somewhat normal so the performance wouldn’t be a disaster.

Anyways, that quickly ended and the violinist gave me the cue to begin.

I don’t now how much time passed but it surely was quick. I started mysterious chords that sounded like the glinting, moonlit rivers near Manhattan flowing into the silent, deadly venom that seeps through an animal’s veins. The cello entered with the main part singing moodily with expressive passion and giving the piece a safer flavor. After the cello part withdrew, the violin entered; they both played the accompaniment, and I switched to the melody. This continued and we slowly got through the dramatic middle and ballistic end without failing each other and I enjoyed this piece more than about ever because our audience was thrilled and finally clapped cheerfully. I was really relieved about my performance even though I had one bigger, stormier, and even more terrifying piece yet to come to finish this afternoon’s performance. However, I didn’t feel like thinking about it anymore. Maybe, this concert would be ending at 3:00 and I wouldn’t have to go since we were running late already. Impossible!

I just sat there in one of the uncomfortable audience chairs and waited for time to pass by, but time itself was a lazy couch potato. I had to wait for a vast amount of time. The not very impressive player’s (to put it politely) instruments squeaking and belching before me, the audience staring without any emotion, and the longing to get out of this stuffy hall kept me asleep through most of the concert.

I finally woke up when the cello choir played one of the most ridiculous songs I had ever heard. With the leader cellist, who was in this case my amazing friend Sebastian, they all played a lively song, filled with sounds that were like horses stomping, small dogs yapping, with a final shout of “YEEEHAAA” from everyone on stage! The audience laughed their heads off and I was so jolly that I didn’t just feel satisfied with my first piece but ready for the second one. I clapped loudly.

After they marched off stage with the sound of their cellos clonking left and right, other groups came up to play that were in fact quite impressive. With massive dynamics and music rushing over them, they got quite a loud applause. Finally it was my turn: time to finish this!

My group assembled ourselves to walk on stage, but before we stepped up onto the platform, my friend started teasing me in a jolly state. “You’re going to mess up when the audience will hear you in your solo parts,” he said, to get me fired up. He was smiling sheepishly as if he were telling a lie so I knew he wasn’t being serious. But, of course he wasn’t sure what would happen in this performance; who could tell the future? At once I fell into a state of shrinking into some grotesque little gnome and I felt like cutting out his comment from my memories. Then, at once, I realized that it was actually supporting my outcome because the more pressure I am carrying, the better the music squeezes out of me; at least that has been the case so far. I turned into a giant and crushed him under my little toe by saying, “Don’t comment on me, for everybody has an equal chance of messing up.” He shrugged, we bowed, and zap we were already playing.

I don’t know how much time had passed but I was already at the end of the piece. My fingers were playing up and down the piano feeling the turning of the keys inside out sometimes, supporting this and that. However I had short glimpses of the audience and it occurred to me that they were taking in the music in slow motion. Wow, no time to look.  I was yet doing another solo, which I later realized I had added a few touches in making this part especially better. Oh no, here it comes! A wave of sixteenth notes started slipping under my fingers and I scrambled for all of them. I was failing, I had almost missed a few notes but my will kept pushing me further. The last grumpy bar had arrived and didn’t want to be played but I had practiced this part the most and it was beaten to a stump.



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