Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back at the (imaginary) podium

NYRO held its annual benefit gala a few weeks ago. This was the 2nd year for the event and I've been involved in the planning both times. In addition, this year I was also a featured attraction. I was going to donate a pair of New York Philharmonic tickets to the raffle when one of my friends suggested that I include myself in the deal. The idea turned into "win a date with Phil" and I became an auction item. After some heated bidding, one of the trumpeters won. His wife, also a trumpeter, was cool with the idea of her husband and I spending an evening on the town.

We also held a silent auction for other items, both goods and services. Near the end of the night as the silent auction wrapped up, I noticed that no one had bid on our music director's donation of a conducting lesson. Maybe it was the alcohol or the cash burning a hole in my pocket, but I couldn't let that item go without someone bidding on it. I was prepared to fight for it, but no one else made a bid so I won.

I have some experience as a conductor. My parents showed me the basic beat patterns when I was a kid. I spent many hours in my room in front of my stereo conducting an imaginary orchestra from the score and a recording. In college I led the orchestra in a humorous rendition of Rossini's Overture to "The Barber of Seville" with a plastic chicken as a baton, and later became something of a de facto assistant conductor. In my last concert before graduation, I conducted the orchestra in Sibelius' "Finlandia." And I was a music director for two rock musicals where a conductor wasn't really necessary. But that has been the extent of my conducting career. I haven't thought much about conducting since college. The realities of life crept into the space that dream used to occupy. I'm excited about this lesson because it will let me live in that dream's space for just a short time. And it's going to be a challenge: I've been asked to prepare a couple of pieces. This thing is for real. If I actually get to conduct the orchestra, I'm going to be more nervous than I've been in years.

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