Carmina Burana from the Stage

Carmina Burana from the Stage



I sit in a forest of clarinets,
Bb, A, Eb, and Bass,
Ready to play them all soon.
Next to two pianos, lids off,
Surrounded by the orchestra,
All dressed in black,
Feeling grateful to be here,
To be doing what I love more than anything.
In the choral balcony, several choirs are at the ready.


The warm-up fills the hall with its harmonious cacophony,
The packed house bristling with anticipation,
All fifteen hundred seats,
The excitement palpable.
The time has come, the lights dim,
The hall quiets.
The concert master stands to take the A,
The orchestra tunes,
The rituals of time,
Always the same.
The stage door opens, as the conductor enters to welcoming applause,
The orchestra stands.
He takes the podium, smiling confidently at us all,
And raises his baton.

I feel the adrenaline rush in that moment,
The time to put countless hours of practice,
Years of study,
The daily routines of scales and etudes,
Studying with great masters to learn the craft,
Picking just the right instruments,
Just the right mouthpiece and reeds.
The preparation for this concert began so long ago,
And never ends,
The skills must be maintained,
A labor of love.
The baton moves,
We breathe in unison.

‘O Fortuna’ rings out,
A wall of sound from the orchestra and choirs,
Rhythmic, primal.
Total focus on the baton,
Listening carefully to match intonation,
Balance, blend.
The energy is incredible, magical.
The many become one instrument,
Played by the conductor,
As he shapes and cues,
Inspires, cajoles, becomes the music,
Pushing us, drawing everything from us.


The challenge is getting it perfect every time,
Mastering the interpretation,
The phrasing, the nuance.
Telling the story through the music,
Igniting the passion of the audience,
Carmina Burana unfolds,
Movement after movement,
At times full of passion and fury,
At times ethereal.
The hour flies past,
‘O Fortuna’ returns,
A bookend.
The final chord, the cut-off,
Thunderous applause, shouts of “Bravo!”
The orchestra and soloists stand,
I am smiling from ear to ear,
The thrill, the sense of a goal attained.
Another concert,
Another dream come true.


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