To let the music write a story in your mind is an experience like no other. The language of music ranges from producing emotions such as anger, love, hopelessness and sometimes all of these in one go. My mind was writing a story tuned to Mozart’s Piano Sonata No.16 Andante. A story of a slow day unlike what this city provides customarily. The story was about an escape from the hustle and bustle, an escape from thoughts that don’t usually ask for consent to enter our mind.
This happened at Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai where SOI Chamber Orchestra performed a show of about 2 hours, where classical music showed its timelessness, provided you are not concerned about wasting it. The conductor, Evgeny Bushkov felt like a character straight out of the movie “Amadeus” with a firm quirky wig attached to his head. He commanded with grace and an exuberant personality rarely seen in musicians nowadays.
Before the performance started, as the audience was settling into the free seating provided, music could be heard from the backstage. Sounds of mistakes, that only practice can forgive, were being heard. The players took the stage. An introduction to the music was provided by the conductor. Silence filled the theatre before the players filled the spaces with the tenderness of the violin.
With little knowledge of classical music, we clapped after one piece of the larger musical piece ended. The conductor raised his hand while his back was turned, conveying there was still more material to be performed from the same piece. Slowly the audience fell in tune with the moments that required clapping.
Some of the people were seemingly lost on how to appreciate this seemingly dying art. Whilst some were appreciating the nuances of masterful playing that looked effortless, only hidden by years of making mistakes. I imagined a story in my head dictated not by my mind but by the crescendoes and decrescendos of the symphony. The music took a turn to put together the setup of a climax. My mind added a character to this music slowly and slowly. The theme of the story turned into one of redemption but which ended in a climax of tragedy. Claps.
To introduce another musical piece the conductor recited a poem. The poem was about celebrating a tragic victory by putting a crown of rose thorns on the head. Two lines stayed with me.
‘…where little roses would have shown
there were drops of blood instead’
This display of drama helped the audience appreciate the music in a way classical music is rarely talked about nowadays. In terms of its potential to tell stories of grand narratives to small internal conflicts in characters, we realised classical music wasn’t going to die without a fight. This performance by SOI Chamber Orchestra helped me move one step further towards appreciating music that is not only a performance of technique but also a display of varied emotions and stories you never knew existed in you.