Through a Glass Darkly: Symphony concerts stir up musical desires

BY BOB ANDERSON

Listening to the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra last week rekindled a recurring wish.

The wish returns whenever live music seeps into my soul. As much as I love listening to well-played music and closing my eyes to be drifted where it will take me, I wish even more to be part of making it.

Powerful performances like the symphony’s re-creation of what Modest Mussorgsky must have heard in his head as he created “Pictures at an Exhibition” stir my desire to be on stage with the orchestra.

Unlike many people who love symphonic music, I don’t want to snatch the baton from the conductor and wave it rhythmically, pausing at all the right moments to punctuate key passages.

I don’t want to be the person in charge. I just want to be a part of a team creating something that sounds so beautiful.

It wouldn’t matter much what I played, though, if I could choose an instrument over which I had mastery, it would be the piano.

To be able to play a grand piano the way Christopher O’Riley does and mesh its sound with a symphony would be like sitting on the front porch of heaven.

Maybe we all wish to do something we have never learned. My wife, who plays the piano, shares my symphony dream, but wishes she could play percussion.

When I was younger, my choice of instruments would have been the guitar, but my taste for classical music had not developed as much as my desire to be surrounded by girls.

Even now, my musical desire isn’t just piqued by attending a symphony. A good rock concert still summons it to a lesser degree.

I also feel it when friends with instruments and voices that don’t scare the pets gather informally and play just for the fun it brings.

I love to sit back at such gatherings listening and soaking in their synergistic joy, but I’d love even more to be able to strum a guitar, run my fingers over ivory or even sing in key.

The closest I’ve ever come to producing music is to sing a couple of times in a church choir, where I was tactfully asked not to sing too loud. And, of course, there was my one experience with a rock-folk-country band.

In that garage band, I played the tambourine with a few high school friends. They welcomed my participation because I had a car and could pick everybody up for practices and the couple of non-paying gigs we wrangled.

Maybe when I retire I can get Mary to teach me to play something beyond “Chopsticks” on the piano. (I don’t really know “Chopsticks” yet. I’m putting on airs.)

In return I could teach her all I know about percussion, if we can find a used tambourine in a pawn shop.

Does anybody know when the Baton Rouge Symphony has auditions?

Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@the
advocate.com.