If you haven’t heard the piece please YouTube it, you’ll love it. The Lark Ascending is a short piece for violin and orchestra written by the master of masters Ralph Vaughan Williams.
I personally had a great time with this work. The first time I listened to the work I knew I had to learn it. Soon after, I had the opportunity to perform it with orchestra, but it was not until the following year that The Lark Ascending became my piece.
Grad school started and I re-learned it and competed with it getting second place and the chance to play it once again with orchestra. At the moment I felt I was the perfect medium for it, like I knew how to express what the composer had to say. I felt The Lark.
The piece got me various gigs as well. I was known as the Lark guy. Every time the name of the piece popped out of somewhere my name usually followed (in the area where I was studying, of course). I played it in churches, private parties, funerals and concert halls. With orchestra, with piano, without piano (solo violin), with reductions. In the end, I owned it.
From all these wonderful experiences with The Lark Ascending, there was one that captivated and really gave me something unique. And it was soon after the competition, where I found out that someone was looking for a violinist to perform the Lark. The piece was still fresh in my head. It turned out that a very special lady from the school administration was looking specifically for The Lark Ascending. Her relative, who recently passed away, loved this particular violin piece and considered it among his favorites.
It was an honor.
Vaughan William’s piece and its subtle mood can take your emotions through a peaceful journey. It’s a work of art that can touch anyone's soul in a matter of seconds. And for this particular occasion, the music was going to bring just the perfect atmosphere. One that invokes reflection and peacefulness.
That day at the funeral I played The Lark. The family expressed their gratitude and friends, as usual, came to me saying how the music had touched them.
I felt that as I played, every single note was heard by the people there. But not only heard, it was also felt with tenderness. Everybody was listening and feeling.
What else can a musician ask?
If you think about it, we musicians practice tons of hours to “impress people”. We want to hear them say good thing about our performance. We give our best and try to touch them, change them somehow.
That day I changed more people than I would’ve in any concert hall.
Think about it.
Of course, the circumstances helped the meaning of the piece—but either way, I made a positive impact and achieved my objective as a musician.
When I was leaving I invited them to the “real performance”. The one with orchestra and in a concert hall.
You can imagine! They said, “Oh, we’ll be there”.
After playing the “real performance” I achieved another moment of fantasy with the piece—but I’m sure I didn’t change as many people as I changed in the funeral—and that is to be expected.
At the end of the concert, the lady came to me with her sister. Very consumed with the music they expressed their feelings and how they really connected with my performance.
The Lark Ascending changed my life in many different ways—but that performance at the funeral made me feel complete as a classical musician, as an interpreter and as a person.
Moments like that make you realize the huge power of music and how lucky you are to be in this profession.
If you never heard it I recommend/like Hilary Hahn's interpretation.
If I were to describe this piece I would say: It’s the aura of the piece, the beginning, the cadenzas, the harmonies. The piece it’s so unique I am proud to have interpreted it in so many different ways.
If you have any feelings or want to share any experiences please leave a comment and/or follow me at Tips for Classical Musicians.
Previous entries: November 2012
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