I began to lose consciousness after stuffing myself with as much vegan curry over rice as my stomach could possibly handle at Indian Veg. I ended on a gulp of cold water even in the face of questionable advice signs such as “cold water causes heart disease.” But, as if my cold water didn’t increase my chances of heart disease enough, I walked over to a Pret near Angel station to wash down my incoming food coma with a cup of coffee.
I arrived at the Barbican Centre from Barbican station, which had been the same entrance I took when I had visited the Barbican for the first time the previous week. The architecture still inspired me upon second glance. Although I do not know much about the history of location, the area seemed to be reminiscent of a socialist utopia. The fact that such a luxurious neighborhood had been public housing at one point amazes me even more. During the day, the interior is littered with people drinking glasses of wine or reading a book. It was one of those places. A large fountain had been surrounded on all sides by brown concrete buildings with ivies dripping down them. In the middle of the water, a dozen pillars supported a similarly sized concrete block, which housed even more residents. In the distance, a couple of the high rises made from the same brown concrete lined the edges of the area before transitioning to the rest of the city.
The London Symphony Orchestra were playing two songs: Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1. I have played both of these pieces before in some capacity. There, watching the flailing arms of the conductor, I found myself reminiscing the countless rehearsals that have defined my own experience with these pieces.
I played Till Eulenspiegel in either the Philadelphia Sinfonia or the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. I do not remember which one, as most of my experiences playing violin during my adolescence have merged into one negative sentiment. But, as I heard the countless flute solos throughout, I couldn’t help but to flutes on the countless times my conductor has yelled at the flutes for rushing. Or, the basses. The bassists in almost all of orchestras had been a subject of ridicule by the conductor. I suppose, of course, that rehearsals ran a bit differently in professional orchestras as opposed high school students playing instruments. I would assume that all of them could count. But, alas, whenever I hear a section solo, I could only imagine the conductor shouting and clapping during rehearsal.
I have never played Shostakovitch No. 1 in an orchestra context, but I believe that I did played an excerpt of the first movement for an audition at one point. Seeing that I did not have the chance to play it in its entirely, I could only assume that I did not get into whatever I had been trying to audition for. I do, however, remember that playing the majority of the theme in seventh position, and I remember how painful it had been to repeated practice a couple of measures with my nimble fingers against the biting sharpness of the E-string. I could only imagine how much time each of these musicians have spent on the same indifferent strings. I envision the melody matching the screams of their fingers.
I did not pass out as I think I would. I have not passed out at a concert since I had been in elementary school. I thought I would pass out, but I did not pass out.