Soloist & Student Orchestra Handle Mishap with Grace

Peter Askim's violin soloist showed grace under pressure Saturday night. (Photo from another event. Courtesy Idyllwild Arts).

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Broken strings. You can bet that world-class violin soloists playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony have broken their violin strings onstage before.

However, that must’ve been cold comfort for Ally, the 16-year-old sophomore, during her first solo with the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra (IAO) Saturday night, Oct. 15.

Halfway through her 20-minute piece, Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 61, Ally’s violin strings broke. Immediately she said, “Sorry,” and stopped playing.

“I knew that she was in trouble,” said Xiofan, better know as Sa-Sa, the principal violin player. “There’s no way she could fix it.”

Sa-Sa offered his violin to Ally, and she continued playing the rest of the piece without incident.

“You barely noticed that anything was wrong,” said Alex, a voice major from New Zealand who attended the concert Saturday night. “There was a natural pause. But afterwards, I think she sounded better on Sa-Sa’s violin.”

Ally's strings broke halfway through the Beethoven piece Sat. night (File photo).

But that left Sa-Sa without a violin. As first chair and concertmaster, you can bet that the orchestra needed him to keep playing as much as they needed the soloist.

Without prompting, Lin Ma, another student violinist, offered Sa-Sa his violin, and the music continued.

“I think that’s the natural order of things,” said one Idyllwild Arts student whose sister plays violin with a professional orchestra. “The concertmaster offers the soloist his instrument, and the violin next in line offers the concertmaster his and it goes down the line. They did the right thing.”

What Peter Askim, music director and conductor, was thinking, no one knows but him. Yet, Peter addressed the mishap with humor by using an analogy before the Sunday afternoon, Oct. 16, concert began.

“Most of the students in the orchestra are brand new to Idyllwild Arts,” Peter explained. “Like a new sports car, we took it out for a ride yesterday and tested its meddle. After shifting a few gears, we’ll sound even better today.”

There was laughter coming from audience members who knew about the mishap, while others didn’t know why Peter was talking about sports cars.

“I checked Ally’s violin before she went onstage today,” Sa-Sa said. “Everything was just fine.”

You can bet that Ally’s heart was racing a bit faster as she neared the part in the music where her strings had broken.

“Sa-Sa was the hero Saturday night,” Alex exclaimed. “When he came onstage after the break, everyone clapped especially hard for him.”

Shen was the clarinet soloist

Sa-Sa said that he didn’t notice.

But a 10-second mishap is not the entire concert, and a lost shoe is not the game. I once saw a star shooter during a UCLA basketball lose his shoe, and scramble to recover it without stopping play.

It happens to the best of them.

For her second concert solo on Sunday afternoon, Ally showed incredible grace and composure. Perhaps only her mother would know how nervous she was. Only once during a rest did Ally inspect her violin strings, and hold the instrument up to her ear.

Mr. and Mrs. Yang came all the way from Dalian, on the coast of China, to her their daughter play. (Their uncle is a pilot so they can fly free). During the concert, both were busy recording Ally’s performance on their cameras.

Not only did Ally maintain her composure, she played the Beethoven concerto as if it wasn’t difficult at all. At times, it sounded as if two violins were playing simultaneously. And there were parts where Ally’s fingers were moving so fast, it looked as if they weren’t moving at all.

That’s the beauty of young talent, and she’s only going to get better with each experience.

“You did a great job today, honey, and yesterday too,” said one woman to Ally after the concert Sunday.

Ally thanked her and smiled. The hard part was over.

For his clarinet solo, Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 5, Shen appeared serious, but also played with grace and a loud, clear sound. For fans like me, it seemed like eternity before he got to play. Yet when Shen was in the spotlight, he took his time. Yahuda, his teacher, would have been proud.

According to the program, Crusell wrote most of his concertos so that he’d have something to play. And this clarinet concerto was one of the best works – both melodic and emotionally inventive.

On Sunday, both Ally’s and Shen’s solos were perfectly executed. During their encore bows, both received standing ovations from the audience. New headmaster Brian Cohen, who plays the violin, was first on his feet applauding loudly. Peter Askim also appeared pleased, giving Shen a hearty hug, and holding Ally’s hand as they bowed together.

As someone once said, “It’s not about the mistakes you make, but how you recover.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Oct 17, 2011 @ 12:56

 

 

 

 

 


the attachments to this post:

Shen was the clarinet soloist
PS Shen CU

Ally's strings broke halfway through the Beethoven piece Sat. night (File photo).
Shen Orchestra Ally CU

Peter Askim's violin soloist showed grace under pressure Saturday night. (Photo from another event. Courtesy Idyllwild Arts).
Askim Award 2

New Music Peter
New Music Peter


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