Oistrach Symphony Orchestra. Earlier this month, I competed in the DePaul Concerto Festival Auditions, and I was chosen one of 13 winners to play my concerto with the orchestra.
For the clarinets they allowed the following pieces: the Stamitz 3rd Concerto, the Weber Concertino, the 1st Weber Concerto, the 2nd Weber Concerto, and the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. Since I had been preparing the Rossini Introduction, Theme and Variations for the Walgreens Concerto competition, I chose to play the Weber Concertino for the DePaul audition, because I had learned it the year before.
My brother gave me the good news when the results were published two weeks ago. I had been in a chamber rehearsal, so he told me in between rehearsals. I was really excited, because I've never played with an orchestra before.
There was only one rehearsal with the orchestra. The conductor Mina Zikri spent a long time on my piece. I was absolutely terrified when it came time to rehearse with the orchestra. I played pretty badly the first couple of run throughs. The orchestra was playing a little fast for me, and I was having trouble keeping the technical parts in control. I was kind of afraid to tell the conductor to slow down. I was kind of afraid to say anything at all. Before the final run through, there was a break. During the break, a few other performers rehearsed, and a friend of mine from my youth orchestra, David Berghoff, arrived for his rehearsal. He had won for viola. After talking to David, I felt more comfortable and confident. They asked me if I wanted to run through the piece again, and I did. This time it went much better. I was able to relax, and play my best. It also helped that Susanne Baker, founder and director of the DePaul Community Music Division, told Mr. Zikri that I would like the Concertino taken at a slower tempo.
A few days later, it was finally time for the performance with the orchestra. I arrived an hour early, and I warmed up for a while. Right before the concert, I was called up to play one more run through of my piece with the orchestra before the concert. I did really well on the run through. Everything went well, and I thought I totally ready to perform for the audience.
About fifteen minutes later, they called me up for my performance. I was first on the program. When I walked up on the stage, I was a little nervous, but mostly I was feeling confident that I would do well. I started the piece, I hit the first note perfectly, and it is an easy note to mess up. Things were going well, and then I looked up at the audience, and I forgot what the next note was. I never ever have this problem! I'm not sure what happened. Maybe I was terrified, but I had felt so confident when I walked up on the stage. I managed to play through the rest of the piece, but it was shaky in a few sections, and I missed a few notes on the runs. I made mistakes I never make! I actually did well in the sections I was worried about, and I messed up things that I usually play extremely well. I couldn't figure out what was happening!
Finally, I finished. I was kind of glad when the performance was over, because I was afraid that I was totally going to lose it. I guess playing in front of an audience is something I need to practice at to get better at.
Still, it was a good experience. I was surprised that a couple of my friends from school, Ally and Rachel, came all the way downtown to watch me perform. It was really nice of them to come. The other soloists were amazing, and it was a privilege to perform in the same program with them. David Berghoff's performance was great, and a 6th grade pianist from my school, Eric Lin, also did a sensational job.