Can you believe the guy in Newark who left his borrowed, $4 million Strad in a taxi? Or how about the one in the United Kingdom, who left his £180,000 Goffriller violin and Sartory bow on a train? Not to mention the Toronto Symphony violinist who accidentally left his modern fiddle at a streetcar stop.
I mean, don't these people care about their instruments? What's wrong with them? Can you believe it?
Actually, yes, I can believe it. Easily. What's wrong with them? It's the same thing that's wrong with all of us: we're human.
People leave valuable violins and cellos in public places, it happens. It's just that more often, one discovers the problem -- and is able to find the fiddle -- before having to enlist the police or local newspaper to help.
When you carry a violin or other instrument with you constantly, it becomes part of your everyday baggage, like a purse or briefcase. Have you ever left your purse, backpack or briefcase somewhere? Probably not often, but quite likely, it has happened during your life.
For me, I have several times nearly forgotten my fiddle at a restaurant, so I'm always putting myself and whomever is with me on guard. You can see how it happens: I stash the violin somewhere under the table or beside it, then I proceed to get involved with my meal, to talk with my companions, to forget myself, and well, to forget my fiddle! The few times it has happened, I've remembered it when I got to the door, or just outside it, but I felt the pang of sheer terror nonetheless.
Have you ever forgotten your fiddle somewhere? And if so, where? Share your story!
If you answered "yes" to the above question, let's talk about where you left it:
My apologies for pushing the weekend vote into the week... I've just arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio (actually Hebron, Kentucky) to visit my new niece, Madeline, who is five weeks old. I spent the weekend finishing a quilt for her! (clap clap clap)
But on to our topic: Applause between movements. I've been fairly liberal on this subject, willing to write off the occasional burst of errant applause in exchange for audience enthusiasm. We want people to enjoy what were are doing, to be engaged in the music we make!
But the concert I played over the weekend had me wanting to reign in this -- dare I say it? -- inappropriate effusiveness. I was playing with the Pasadena Symphony, performing the Verdi "Requiem" with a choir from Occidental College and four fantastic soloists. We had gathered the forces of about 200 people onstage to create this monumental work of sonic art -- a beautiful tribute to life and death that takes the listener on a journey that at times is hushed, or filled with trumpets everywhere, or tracing the perfect octave meanderings of two trained voices, or setting one voice to penetrate through 100, or using the full force of an orchestra, or tracking nothing more than a heartbeat...
First came the cellphone, which broke a quiet and reverent passage. A cell phone, blaring its aberrent ring tone, which is some people's only connection to music in this modern world. Is it possible, audience member, to respect the collective efforts of 200 people onstage, who rehearsed for four nights -- and trained for a lifetime -- to create this magnificent work right before you, in real time?
Then came the troubling applause.
The first movement, if you will, the "Kyrie," winds to a quiet, mournful, and serious end. It is followed by an incredibly explosive entrance by the orchestra, then choir, for the central "Dies Irae" movement of the work. If you've ever been connected to a machine that measures your heartbeat, you'll know that your heartbeat calms quite slowly, but it quickens in an instant. Once quickened, it's hard to slow. Verdi, no stranger to drama, undoubtedly intended to create a a well-honed silence, then to pierce with with the first notes of the "Dies Irae." On Saturday night, though, it was not to be. In that hairpin moment -- the moment between the still waters and our planned attack -- came a loud-ish smattering of...applause. I can't remember feeling so violated or offended by applause! Even our very good-natured conductor winced. In fact, there seemed to be such collective wince from both musicians and much of the audience, that those who applauded got the message: no one applauded thereafter, until the end of the work.
What to do? How do we bring people into the fold, but keep the integrity of what we are doing?
Well, let's start with our little vote:
Did you know that only left-handed people are in their right mind?
It's not really true. We all use both sides of our mind. But, scientists tell us that the right side of the brain controls our left hands, while the left side of the brain controls the right. I suppose this means that, in order to play the violin, we must constantly be in both sides of our brains simultaneously. It could explain why we're all so...brainy? ;)
We've actually had some great debates on V.com in the past: should a left-handed person play "left-handed"? Being left-handed myself, I'm always puzzled by this. It never occurred to me to play any other way, and I've always felt at an advantage to have the fingerboard fall under my dominant hand. I also wonder at the evolution of our current way of doing things: is there something in the creative right side of the brain that works best for a violin hand, something in the analytical left side that works best for a bow hand and arm?
On the other hand.... (groan)
Some feel strongly that they would play to better advantage if their setup were reversed. And in the above-linked discussion, our V.com friend Peter Wilson mentions a stand partner who used such a setup because of injury. So there are legitimate reasons out there for turning things upside down.
My question to you is simply, are you right- or left-handed? That is to say, which hand do you normally write with; I'm not going to get into being ambidextrous. (Though I read a New Yorker article suggesting that right-handed people are "handed," while left-handed people are generally not, they are ambidextrous). I'm wondering if a lot of us are left-handed, or if that's not really the case.
Also, in the comments below, what are your thoughts on handedness and violin-playing?
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The Weekend Vote is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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