From the Orchestra Library

The End of the Season? Not Quite!

Posted in The Music by kschnack on May 12, 2010

Like a desert mirage, the “end of the season” lures us forward with tantalizing promise. We’ve slogged it out for some 36 or 37 weeks, nearing the end of 21 classical programs of three or four performances each, 12 pops weekends with two or three concerts, numerous specials (mostly one-night stands), 3 different youth programs each performed about ten times, fifteen or more December holiday concerts, plus three run-outs, corporate concerts, commissions, recordings, and the like. I am NOT, at the moment, going to calculate how many pieces of music that is for fear I would simply keel over in shock.

The regular season comes to an end in less than two weeks with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, a bookend celebrating twenty seasons in the Meyerson Symphony Center which opened with the same work under the baton of the late Eduardo Mata. It’s a fitting tribute and cap to an exhilarating season of musical highs with our new boss, Jaap van Zweden, and will, without doubt, be exciting, moving and memorable.

But we are tired, tired.  We are ready for a break.

Like everyone else, the orchestra has been dealing with economic challenges even as it pushes hard to grow through the tough times. The annual fund campaign is in overdrive until the end of the month. Final planning of repertoire, artists and tours for the 2011-12 season is in full gear, including several ambitious artistic initiatives that will be new for the orchestra. And there is no let-up on stage for the music director and players in their constant pursuit of excellence.

So just when it gets close to the season’s “end” and we start to see that light, the accomplishment of all those concerts and programs which now seem a blur, we are hit with the cold reality that..……it’s not really over!

Oh yeah. The Summer Season of the DSO. The Parks concerts. The Festivals. The Patriotic Concerts. The Specials. The Residency. Gotta put those hiking boots back in the closet for just a bit longer.

Perhaps it’s akin to a marathoner hitting the wall. How are we going to summon up the energy, drive, creativity and focus to finish all this out?

Well we will. It’s what we do. (But it doesn’t mean we won’t whine a little.)

Now before anyone gets the idea that we aren’t grateful for our 52-week schedule, let me assure you that we are. We know we are fortunate to have full-time jobs with a great orchestra. We also know that means we all have to work hard, all the time, all year. I do not begrudge that work. I know too well what it’s like to not have a job or to be in a troubled orchestra. I know what it’s like to be in an orchestra that closes its doors.

Twenty five years ago I was living that nightmare, and struggling through the aftermath to make enough money to buy food. I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to go, or how I was going to survive. But I kept working hard, landed on my feet, and have now been at the DSO for twenty seasons. I will never forget how lucky I am.

The maestro summed it up in a few words the other night as he walked out on stage for the last piece on the program – Ravel’s Mother Goose Ballet. He had a bad cold, and was drained. No one in this orchestra works harder than he, and the intensity of it all had caught up with him too. But he looked up and said with a lightness of spirit, “It will be fine. Music makes everything better!” And out he went.

He’s right. It does.


One Response to 'The End of the Season? Not Quite!'

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  1. Alison said,

    That quote gave me goosebumps. He is so right!

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