The core of an artist

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A crisp, sweet smell of Fuji apple lingered on my fingers. The core peaked reluctantly through the partially eaten meat. I greedily ate fresh fruit, veggies and humus in the green room, as I re-hydrated and mentally regrouped. Our “sound check” lasted a little over two hours. Sunday was the season finale for the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra, and we were featuring an incredibly talented composer and violinist, Gareth Johnson. Gareth’s extreme travel distance dictated how much time we actually got to rehearse with him, making every available minute necessary.

There are days I question why I continue to play second oboe. I feel lost in the hundreds of rested measures, waiting to speak. My mind wanders outside the floating notes of principal instruments. Sometimes I feel unnecessary, like a forgotten accessory hiding in the back of a closet.

Then there are days like Sunday, when I am reminded how intricately woven each purposely placed sound is, creating a tapestry of music. The 500 plus people filling the auditorium’s seats felt like Peeping Toms, peering silently through an invisible window, while all the musicians on stage engaged in an intimate conversation, revealing themselves to the core. I couldn’t remember a single missed note or wavering tempo by the end of the concert. And it suddenly didn’t matter how many, or how few, notes I had played because I was part of a whole. My contribution was necessary in order to produce this end result. A sense of accomplishment and contentment filled me, as I listened to the sound of rapid applause reverberating off the walls of the theater.

Although Gareth’s talent is impressive, it is his character that is most inspiring. The notes trickled off the strings of his violin, while his body remained grounded. His presence was soft-spoken and uncomplicated. There was no hint of arrogance, only humility, as he performed in partnership with our orchestra. It was like spending the afternoon with a cherished friend, sharing secrets and personal stories. I couldn’t help but feel an empty sadness packing up my instrument, knowing that this moment was over.

I will cling to the crisp, sweet sounds of a Stradivarius lingering in my ears, its voice now resting deep within my core.




This post was partially inspired by last week’s Red Writing Hood prompt, focused on the word “core”. The original prompt was  to explore any meaning of the word in a work of creative non-fiction/memoir or fiction in 450 words or less.

8 thoughts on “The core of an artist

  1. Lovely post! (Sorry I’m so late commenting, this subscription got lost in my overfull email inbox) I play second/third flute, because I can only make half the rehearsal each week due to dance classes, so I know this feeling. I also play the piccolo and I once had a piece where 74% of my part was rests – I got so bored, I got out a calculator and worked it out. I’ve been known, occasionally, to bring books to rehearsal 🙂
    But as the song “Through Heaven’s Eyes” from The Prince of Egypt says, “A single thread in a tapestry, though its colour brightly shines, can never see its purpose in the pattern of the grand design” =)

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