The Stories of Our Music
This is one of my favorite times of year, as all the creative juices are flowing. Every few days a composer comes to present his or her new piece to the orchestra (each year we have about twenty). They tell us the stories behind their pieces, and it’s our job to bring the colors of these stories to life.
Here the son, in his mother’s arms, takes his last breath—play her pain; here the monk triumphs over temptation—play his righteousness; here the general deals a fatal blow to the invaders—play his triumph; here the gates of heaven open—play the glory! Here the erhu is crying, here the clarinet is taunting, there the flute is floating. It’s a pageant of stories and legends, past and present, some well known and some never before known.
Of course, we often play pieces that don't tell a specific story, but focus on a certain aspect of Chinese culture. With these pieces, it’s instead: here’s where the fans are unfurled, here’s where the dancers flip, here’s where the arrows are released…
While those are a lot of fun too, the stories, for me, are what make this time of year so special. As we play the music we learn about history, about moral tales, and about the potential of the human spirit. It’s time for us to work on how to best express what the composers intend to give the audience come December.
Oboist with Shen Yun's New York Company Orchestra
September 28, 2010