(random image stolen from Facebook group)
Every Saturday. Cambie Secondary School. Music room. Smiley faces.
For 4 years of my high school life, Saturdays are for music.
Every Saturday. Get up at 8am. Eat some grass for breakfast. Drive all the way across Richmond to Cambie Secondary School. Walk around the building to find the 1 unlocked door. Squeeze into the slightly too small room with a piano. Help moving the gazillion music stands out of storage to form an orchestra arrangement. Get a chair (those little kiddie high school chairs). Sit down. Open the clarinet case. Wet the reed in a little sealed can of water I keep in the case (eww!). Screw it on. Join the effort in making the white noise of everyone warming up at the same time.
9:30 AM. Conductor steps in front of the orchestra, and raises the baton to silences the noise. Cues the oboist for a pure concert A. First violin joins. Rest of the strings join. Flutes. Woodwinds. Brass. All playing in imperfect unison with a slow wobble. Eventually, they come to agree that some instruments are less wrong than others, and everyone converges to one frequency.
Then 3 hours of orgasm. Classical stuff, not so classical stuff, concertos, jazz, Bach, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked. It’s like a temporary detachment from the real world. Everyone so passionate about making music. Focus.
They were kind of awesome.
Gateway Theatre, every year. Dress rehearsal at 4pm, food at 6pm, frantically running around the stage to set up seats and stands, and curtain opens at 8pm.
Dude with gray hair walks to the podium to introduce the orchestra and the program.
Conductor walks on stage, players stand. Conductor shakes hand with the solo violinist (concert master/mistress), walks to the centre of the stage, and motions the orchestra to sit.
Conductor whispers something unintelligible to the orchestra, inaudible and invisible to the audience, behind him.
He raises the baton. Violinists, violists, and cellists raise their bows. Wind players take a breath and hold it. Percussionists raise their mallets (and stuff… I never figured out what those percussion things are called). Everyone sits taller in anticipation. Dead silence.
Baton comes down. All hell breaks loose.
Playing on stage is actually very cool. The stage is well lit, and the audience is pitch black, so we can’t see a thing in the audience. For all we know, the audience could have all stood up and left the moment lights dim, and we wouldn’t know any better. It’s like playing into a void, except much more stressful, because we knew, back in our minds, that there are couple hundred people watching and listening.
Intermission. Curtains close.
Everyone retreats into the backstage dressing room (very cool place by the way, full of mirrors, old-fashioned light bulbs, way too many coat hangers, and couches!), discussing the missed notes, awesome screw-ups, and exchange some pleasantries. Moments later, conductor opens the door and sticks his head in, and offers some encouragements, compliments, and general niceties.
“GO! GO! GO!” Everyone quietly (or attempted to quietly) runs on stage and assumes their posts. Curtain raises, and the same thing happens again.
All this is no more. I just found out a little while ago that the orchestra ceased to exist about 2 years ago. :(. RIP Richmond Youth Orchestra.
PS. I know my writing style is hard to read. Sorry about that :(. I write mostly for myself, about thoughts that just pop up as I write. And unfortunately, conjunctions are not usually part of my thoughts. I don’t know if this is the same for everyone, but my “thought voice” is always very concise and in very short phrases, which I find kinda cool. Though if you were to tap into my mind and hear my “thought voice”, it probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense to you. Me and my brain, no one but each other understands us.