One of the recurring themes at Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival in rural Virginia—where I'm working as an inter—seems to be all about different people’s opinion on what makes a professional musician, or more importantly, what does it take to be a musician.
As musicians, do we only make and play music, or are we also creating music through different means other than as performers?
As I go about my daily routine here on the farm, I am learning more and more about myself, and how diverse a music career can become. Throughout the past few weeks, I have met many different people from all sorts of backgrounds in music, and it seems that the general consensus is being a musician entails more than playing your instrument—it's the notion of transcending your comfort zones in life, and that means being able to juggle a successful career across the performance halls, teaching studios, conducting podiums, scholarly pursuits, and artistic planning.
Then, I suppose, the result would be to achieve a sense of personal satisfaction that, as a musician, we can contribute in a truly unique and meaningful way.
After the third week, as a set routine was beginning to manifest itself, the workload at the festival started to pile up as I took on new and varied responsibilities. As a violinist and on orchestral musician, one never really thinks about how the parts are prepared, how the practice parts are done, and the amount of work it actually takes to prepare for a successful first rehearsal (certainly practicing your part takes us one step closer!)
I found out the hard way, and so did my fellow colleagues, as we foolishly took on the responsibility of preparing (and bowing) the parts to three operas and ten orchestral pieces (and there is more to follow over the next few weeks.) That process was an all-nighter, and some of my dear friends stayed up till 6 AM copying and organizing parts for distribution the following day.
Certainly the role of orchestra manager is difficult, and not to mention orchestral librarian.
These are just tasks that needed to be done, and when done most musicians would not see the actual process.
And when Maestro Maazel takes the stage, it's clear that all of that effort is worthwhile.
The moment when a true musical giant descends upon the ground, there's something electrifying in the air, and its effect on everyone is astounding. When Maestro Maazel first appeared at rehearsals on Friday, June 8, there was something different in the way people responded in the orchestra.
There was music in the air.
Immediately people were energized by the Maestro’s intense musicality.
As a former performer, I find myself constantly memorized by the maestro's ability and moved by his every gesture (even without my instrument in hand!) Perhaps the most astounding realization, personally, is that Maestro Maazel makes absolutely no compromise artistically, which might have all sorts of ramifications, but this what makes the festival exciting and dynamic.
In our age, there few conductors (or even musicians) that command the respect and prestige that Maestro Maazel does—he belongs to an older generation of artists that wills immense ability with confidence.
Today, conductors, musicians and administrators alike live as equals, but in a setting in which decisions are made through the corporate hierarchy based on market demands. As a young intern working in such an environment, as the festival tries to modernize and juggle to retain the mysticism of the past, the learning curve has been incredible.
Watch live streams and videos of this season's concerts from the Castelton Festival.
- The Emersons: Reflecting on Change, Pt. II
- The Emersons: Reflecting on Change, Pt. I
- Montreal Chamber Music Fest—Brandenburgs a la Wallfisch
- The Montreal Chamber Music Festival—Canada's Instrument Bank Steals the Show
- More from Montreal: The Les Petits Violons School
- Montreal Violin Competition, Pt. V—It's a Wrap!
- The Montreal Violin Competition, Pt. IV, the Results
- The Montreal Violin Competition, Pt. III, The Finals
- Live from Montreal: The Montreal Violin Competition, Pt.II
- Making a Cello, Part II