Spicing Things Up: My Night at the Boston Symphony
Uncategorized Posted Feb 27, 2015 by Jennifer Torode
Every month I try to do something different to add a little zest to my life—whether I participate in a Paint Nite, try a new restaurant, tackle a new home improvement project or attend a wine tasting. Last night that zest was the Boston Symphony with world-renowned Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit and lead German violinist Julia Fischer in the great Brahms Violin Concerto.
It’s been years since I last ventured into the beautifully extravagant Symphony Hall. It was like stepping back in time—double-tiered balconies, back-lit statues and traditional red and gold ornately trimmed walls and paneled decor. As I took my seat, members of the orchestra softly and orderly walked onto the stage, taking their seats, tuning their instruments and smoothing out their sheet music. I found myself glancing from one end of the stage to the next, wondering how many years each musician has played their instrument, when they first learned to play, why they chose a particular instrument, how many hours each week they practice, where they were from originally and what inspired them to play. But one thing I knew for certain just by the expressions on their faces is that each thoroughly enjoys playing—whether taking their bow to their violin or Cello, strumming their harp with a willowy flow or blowing air into their bassoon, flute or clarinet.
The audience was eclectic. From young children—some dressed in leggings and UGGs while others sported their special dresses—to those who likely have been coming to the symphony for decades and every age in between. Some closed their eyes either to savor the sounds or the composition relaxed them into a light sleep while others starred starry-eyed into the sea of musicians.
Mr. Dutoit was as poised as one would imagine a conductor should be—sharply dressed in a long tailed tuxedo, upper body swaying as swiftly as lanky prairie grass in the breeze while extending his baton to his charges below.
After an hour of Mr. Dutoit leading the orchestra, the beautiful German violinist Julia Fischer entered from stage left with a graceful confidence, first showing affection to Dutoit, then shaking the hand of a woman violinist closest to the conductor’s platform. I wondered if the woman’s seat was assigned for any particular reason. Perhaps she earned that seat due to her extraordinary talent, years spent playing with the orchestra or maybe she was randomly assigned in the string section—no matter what the reason, she obviously deserved to be there.
On stage, Miss Fischer stood out. The orchestra and conductor adorned in mostly black attire while she wore a long, sleeveless red dress that touched the wooden floorboards below. When she put bow to strings, we all sat mesmerized at the prodigy standing before us—a pure talent. She was only three years old when she first picked up a violin. Now in her early thirties, she makes playing the instrument look as effortless as breathing. Her posture, facial expressions and deliberate small steps from side to side to center empowered her even more and the audience sat and listened with complete admiration and appreciation.
We sat quietly throughout the rest of the set and once she completed her last song, she bowed. The audience stood with an extraordinary loud applause and she exited through the door she came out of. Like any passionate entertainer, she came back for an encore. In her sweet German accent, she said in English that she’d be playing a particular composition and jokingly assured the audience that it was a good one. And, she did not disappoint.