Well, last night was the big night. The culmination of a week of Instituting, months of prepraration, and even more months of composing.
We started the day with a final dress, and from that point I think none of us were the least concerned that we would have an amazing performance. And the level just jumped another notch at performance time. We rounded out the day with exit interviews with Osmo Vänskä and Aaron Jay Kernis. I got the impression that the most-asked question (myself included) was something like: “How can we keep having performances with major orchestras? That was fun.” There is no answer, of course. “Be brilliant and lucky” is about as close as you can get. There was also more heartfelt advice. From Osmo: “Never compromise your inner vision. Never compose thinking, ‘This will be huge applause.’ That is never the right approach.”
There was a beautiful write-up in both of the local papers, and more tickets were sold than ever before the festival. It was too late to be nervous. There was a huge, electrified audience, an awesome performance, the whole deal. What an exciting night. Osmo was on fire and just gave it everything. The orchestra totally bought into the whole performance and just sounded great.
The audience was standing and shouting and even crying. I have never seen anything like it. There was not a dud on the program, and I am awed by my colleagues’ musicality an ingenuity. If I sound a little overwrought, that’s pretty much how I’m feeling. Today we’ll all be heading back to life with new perspectives and unbelievable memories.
I’ll leave things with one thought: There are other orchestras that do reading sessions. And if all of this had ended after the reading Thursday, it still would have been a great experience. Any chance to put your music in front of a major orchestra is a good thing. But I think I learned and experienced as much having the piece really prepared and put before an audience as I did with everything leading up to it. There is an intensity and overwhelming power of culmination in what happened Friday that could never have been captured in a reading, no matter how well-meaning. Long live the Future Classics!