written by Willa Finck, violin
In my first year at Eastman, I went to see the RPO’s production of The Nutcracker. (In a funny coincidence I went to this performance with my friend Petros, who is now in the second violin section, and our tickets were kindly given to us by my current stand-partner, Tigran). I grew up in a small town, which was the first time I had seen The Nutcracker’s professional production. I was already in love with the music (how could you not be?) after playing in the pit orchestra for The Nutcracker at my high school. Still, I was utterly enamored with the performance that day. The quality of the musicians and the dancers, the beauty of the hall (I was still overwhelmed daily by Kodak Hall), and the hundreds of concert-goers all dressed up and happy. But, since the RPO performs The Nutcracker around Thanksgiving, I only attended that first year as I always left Rochester to spend the holiday with my family. The following year I decided to watch the dress rehearsal the night before I left town. I sat in the balcony and heard the same musicians, watched the same dancers, but there was no audience around me… Even though it was performed exactly as it would be the next night, all of the energy coming from the stage had nowhere to go.
Music and art are all about human connection. Performers need the audience as much as the audience needs the performers. And human connection is all about sharing energy and emotion. We must be able to give and receive, we need the closed circuit, the continuity. While nothing could ever replace the energy and joy of a live orchestra concert, we are incredibly fortunate to live in a time when we can still share and experience music and art with relative ease from a physical distance. Speaking as a musician of the RPO, we have used this time as an opportunity to expand how we share and connect. We’ve truly felt the energy and love from our community despite the distance. It is our job as musicians to facilitate all that music can do for people: spread joy and love, heal in times of mourning, or be a soundtrack for celebration.
To honor that purpose and because it is a stunningly gorgeous piece of music, I and my friend and colleague, Grace Browning, recorded the “Meditation” from the opera Thaïs by Jules Massenet. I hope that wherever you are, this music finds you healthy and well.
Willa Finck, violin