Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Our students are no strangers to the stage and have performed for crowds of 50,000 at Citizens Bank Park and sold-out audiences in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. They have shared the stage with greats like Sir Simon Rattle and Wynton Marsalis, but there was something drastically different about performing for the audience at the PA Conference for Women at the Philadelphia Convention Center. We selected fifteen students from our program to perform and they had two weeks to prepare after taking a month off for the final days of their summer vacation. These students haven’t been playing for two years and many of them are now in leadership positions as they represent some of our oldest students in the program. It was a little stressful to get them prepared for the concert, but they have learned that the performance is about the preparation and not the perfection.
The bus rides are always a little rambunctious, but we are always surprised by the reverence the kids have as they enter each venue. This time, the reverence was due to the fact that the convention center is so big! They were escorted upon arrival into the grand exhibit hall where the performance took place, and there was nothing but silence as the kids took in the enormity of the space. The ice was broken as they entered the backstage area and the likes of Monica Malpass, Arianna Huffington, and Governor Rendell; this was the most inspiring moment that our kids have had since we started the program.
We can always tell how nervous the kids get according to how quiet they get moments before they take the stage. However, we saw faces of confidence as they took the stage and worked together to perform a difficult piece of music by Bela Bartok. The harmonies are complex and the piece can easily fall apart if each performer, and section of the orchestra, is not completely focused and dedicated to what the composer has intended. These skills are essential for any great performance and more important for the real world these kids will face in coming years. For this, we think these children deserved the standing ovation that rocked the exhibit hall and put the fire marshalls on alert. This is an experience that those kids will hold for the rest of their life and just might be the experience that gives them the boost to prepare even harder for their next challenge in the rehearsal room and in life.