A few years ago, I subbed in an already established woodwind quintet for a few months. Extremely talented musicians tend to rub off on other musicians and unfortunately, the same holds true in reverse. That summer, I enjoyed my bassoon in a way I never had before. I played pieces of which I hadn't realized I was capable. Difficult stuff, and we not only played it well but damnit, we made music out of those note-filled pages! The regular bassoonist returned and I have truly missed playing with them.
I ended this summer with a bad audition and a stint in a local volunteer orchestra. An orchestra in whose ranks I have spent years. I've seen them improve drastically over the last three years. It really is commendable but at the end of the day, they are still a very large volunteer orchestra with a mediocre base. They have some great players in there but are severely hampered by timid strings, overly loud brass, and a second bassoon with whom I have a great deal of difficulty playing.
My little semi-pro orchestra is wonderful. I have a great time in there, thanks in no small part to the fabulously talented 2nd bassoon whom I play against. But I started off the week of rehearsals feeling horrible about my playing and wondering what the hell I was doing there.
I don't think I've ever felt so deflated and self-conscious. The volunteer orchestra just sucked the confidence right out of me! By the third rehearsal, I was feeling more myself and by the concerts, I was having a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoying bassoon again. It was easily one of the best performances I've ever turned in. Beethoven's Sixth Symphony went off beautifully, as did the Brahms Alto Rhapsody and the Tchaikovsky Cello Nocturne. So well, in fact that the solo cellist mentioned recording a CD with us and the audience gave a standing ovation at the conclusion!
Here's to the rise of talent and art rather than its fall. May we all be so blessed in our lives as to be challenged in ways that awaken our creative spirit.