by Jack Long
I’m sitting off to the right of Mr. David Deitrick, the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra Conductor. The seventy-piece orchestra sits in a cramped fluorescent-lit room.
The brass begin to blow, at first cold and metallic, then sweetening into warm, deep sounds.
The string section violently saws away at chromatic passages.
Woodwinds sit quietly wetting their reeds, except for the flutes— who talk jokingly with their heads tilted to the right and the tip of their head-joints pressed in the left corner of their lips.
The percussionists beat out rhythms with drum-sticks on backs of chairs, the snare, or the cymbals suspended in air.
This incoherent music, this warm-harsh noise fills every musician with envy— and raises our stress levels just slightly.
The orchestral cacophony settles and rests with one glance. From Conductor to Concert Master, the command of “Tuning” is quickly received. The Concert Master shoots a look to the oboist, who, in gentle inclination plays a lonely “A.” Slowly, the Bass voices begin to hum the note, then the Tenors, the Altos next, and finally the Sopranos. My pulse quickens as the consonant stress of the entire orchestral body excited. This wave of sound grows slowly but is short lived.
The Conductor takes a step onto the podium. He adjusts his stand as he whispers out the title of the first piece. The flutter of turning pages and the sound of plucked strings follows.
This exercise takes no more than two minutes, but every musician knows the anticipation of this moment. Whether in rehearsal or in concert, a musician’s entire body quivers with nerves. It is one of the most indescribable feelings, and a feeling only performers are privy to.
Supporting local orchestras, bands, dancers, and artists is one of the most worthwhile things a person can do. Seeing people in your community participate in the things they love builds a deeper understanding and bond in the community. Whether that community is your neighborhood, or Bellbrook, or Dayton, it doesn’t matter.
One of the biggest problems in community programs is funding and patron-ship. We often don’t visit local museums, let alone a world-famous art museum that we have in Dayton. We don’t visit local orchestras or bands. We don’t make time to build our pride in our community. So, I challenge you. Go visit the Dayton Philharmonic or the Dayton Art Institute, or both. It is more difficult to take less pride in your community when there are a plethora of art programs.
I realized this in a cramped rehearsal room at Centerville High School. I also realized the necessity to support our local programs so that the future generations can enjoy them too.