I met with the 12 conductors at 4:00 and we went over the Beethoven concerto one movement at a time. They sang the orchestra part and we stopped various times so they could discuss technique for different things I did with the piece. That was a workout in itself, but then at 6 pm, a few of the Astoria Symphony musicians came and we had a 4 hour rehearsal! From 6-10 the conductors took turns conducting sections of the Beethoven concerto and Brahms Symphony No. 2 with a quintet of strings and a quintet of winds. Things were a bit rocky at times but my dad helped them through it. The real problem started about 7 pm when I suddenly was overcome by a wave of tiredness and felt like I could barely play anymore. I took lots of breaks while they worked on Brahms and I managed to get through the rest of the conductors until they were done with me at 9:30. I think the traveling and the New York weather really took it out of me.
On Thursday I was free again for most of the day until about 6 pm. At 5:00 we took the metro to a church in Manhattan where we had a rehearsal with the full orchestra. It was cramped but we managed! There was another rehearsal from 6-10, but it was much more enjoyable playing with the full orchestra, and the conductors knew their parts better this time. At 8:00 we had a break and Dominos pizza – yum! It was hard having pizza without Coke though which I gave up for Lent last week. Only thirty-something more days! We worked mostly on the 3rd movement of the concerto during this session and I really got a thrill out of playing it with the orchestra. The last 59 seconds of that piece has to be one of the most amazing things ever written.
Friday was a free day for me, everyone went to this great Greek restaurant for a farewell lunch and then I came back to the hotel to practice and iron my dress. It took FOREVER! The dress is 100% silk so I had to keep the iron on a really low setting and the wrinkles were just so stubborn! After working on it for about an hour I finally stuck it in the bathroom with the shower on high heat. I steamed it in there for about 45 minutes and then ironed it again – the wrinkles came out great. At 9:30 my dad and I took a taxi to Manhattan where we had reservations at Serendipity 3. My best friend finished her masters at NYU last year and told me this was a place I absolutely had to try while I was in New York. It was such a cute restaurant! Very much like an old-fashioned tea house but with a swanky upbeat feel to it. My dad and I shared a cheeseburger and seafood fettuccini and then for dessert we got their famous Frozzzzen Hot Chocolate and the Coward’s Portion of their huge Banana Split. The coward’s portion was still $13!! And it was ginormous!!! So good though.. I was really happy we went. We had a lot of fun and my dad got me a t-shirt as a souvenir.
At 8:15 I walked backstage to get ready to go on. I was welcomed with warm applause from the audience and waited for the 5 timpani beats to start the piece. The performance felt great. I felt more and more secure as the piece went on – the first movement is always the hardest and I had two small slips that were annoying but didn’t throw me off. The second and third movements went wonderfully though and I felt light and free in my cadenzas. I received three curtain calls which was encouraging since the audience wasn’t actually that big, but they kept clapping! I talked to some audience and orchestra members during intermission - the Astoria Symphony was so supportive it was really wonderful to play with them. Then I went back to my room and changed before watching my dad conduct Brahms Symphony No. 2. He’s really incredible onstage, I hope everyone that reads this has a chance to watch him at some point.