January 17, 2014

"A dream only dies if you let it ..."

by Carol Lowne

Carol Lowne will perform alongside the musicians of the RPO for the first-ever RPO / Community Orchestra side-by-side, January 22, 2014. Our thanks to Carol for sharing the following reflections on her musical journey.

In kindergarten, they gave me a triangle for my concert debut in the nativity play. But I didn’t want to play the triangle ... and my parents didn’t want me to play anything ... ever! So, the doors to my musical education quickly and firmly, closed ... for the next 23 years.

At 27 and now married to a musically talented (violin-playing) husband, those doors swung open again for me when my husband stated bluntly that he thought I needed to learn to play an instrument. He picked the oboe for me, and it was to become my other soulmate. Until then, the sound of beeping monitors in an Intensive Care Unit of the famous London Hospital where I worked was the music that played in my ears.

Within a year, we had relocated to the US from our home in England, and I discovered the Eastman School of Music's Community Education Division, where I began to take lessons. Years and several excellent former RPO teachers later, I joined some community orchestras and was hooked on live music ... forever.

Then came the announcement that the RPO would host it’s first ever Community Musician side-by-side concert. Would we care to throw our hats in the ring for a chance to play alongside those musicians? My initial excitement and enthusiasm to complete the application was rapidly followed by panic. 

Imagine my surprise when I received an acceptance note, instructing me and all the participants when and where to show up for two rehearsals and the performance. Almost immediately, the thrill of an acceptance letter gave way to the overwhelming fear that I would fail to produce a single playable reed! I soon felt a strong desire to apologize and withdraw my name. Then I had a conversation with myself: "Remember the times you have wondered what it would be like to sit among musicians you’ve admired for years and play music that you love? Well, a dream only dies if you let it ..."

With my assignment and place in the section confirmed, I was determined to learn everything I could from Erik Behr (the RPO’s Principal Oboe) and from Anna Steltenpohl (the RPO’s wonderful English Hornist). Wedged between the two of them as part of the section for one performance, I was bound to learn something by osmosis ... right? 

With one rehearsal down and just one to go before the much anticipated performance next week, here is what I have learned:
    1. That waiting for one’s appointed rehearsal time in Eastman Theatre is a bit like waiting for a root canal experience in a rather plush dentist’s office.
    2. That greeting and rehearsing with Erik and Anna and the RPO members was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the butterflies in my stomach dissipated at the first downbeat from conductor Paul Shewan.
    3. That it was worth investing many hours of private practice over years for the excitement of this opportunity. And ...
    4. That regardless of our designation in life--that of a professional musician or community musician--the thrill of making music is always there and for me, at least...the dream lives.

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