I could almost feel the adrenaline pulsing through my veins.
I closed my eyes, nodding my head in time to my pre-performance music pulsing in my earbuds. Over Muse’s Starlight I could hear the orchestra warming up on stage. Through the tiny window in the stage door, I could see the bright lights, the black-clad orchestra performers, and the dimly lit audience.
My conductor walked past me, air conducting the first few measures of our opening piece in contemplative silence.
With a deep breath, I pulled out my earbuds and drop my iPod in my case on the middle shelf.
Dr. Prior walked back to me. “You own it,” he told me. “You’re going to rock it.” His quick hug reassured me and I smiled, still breathing deeply.
One of our stage managers returned from putting Dr. Prior’s music on his stand and through the momentarily open door the sound of the warming up boomed back stage. The orchestra had been warming up for a while now. The stage manager turned to Dr. Prior and asked if he was ready. He looked at me.
I took a deep breath and nodded. “I’m ready.”
“Lights” The stage manager said through her mic. She laid a hand on the stage door. One last deep breath. The lights dimmed and the stage feel silent at the cue.
She opened the door and I stepped onto stage, making past the harpist, to the middle of the stage. I could hardly see the audience through the blazing lights, but I knew they were there and smiled anyway, before and after my bow. I tuned the orchestra and coordinated our stand for our conductor with the principal cellist in a blur of lights and adrenaline.
The performance swept by in a flash of racing heart beats and beads of sweat. I strained to see Dr. Prior in the midst of a halo of painful light. Before I knew it, we were finishing up the last few measures before my solo movement. The heart beat started racing again and I struggled to relax into the string so as to keep my tone steady. By the time I finished, I had sweat running down the back of my neck.
I was never so glad to finish anything than my first performance as concertmaster. Nothing was so rewarding as the hugs and high fives I received afterward.
And I had never been that exhausted after a performance until that night.
(Thanks to Dad for keeping my camera and snapping some pics)