My experience of performing at Carnegie Hall
글 Julia Kim_Interlochen Arts Academy (Interlochen, MI) Junior Student
Carnegie Hall. It’s a name with a connotation so great even those without the slightest bit of musical knowledge will recognize the title. Many musicians, especially those who live far away from the Manhattan area, view performing at Carnegie Hall as the utmost honor and a worthy bucket list filler.
About 2 years ago, when I was the flute/piccolo player in the Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra, our director, Dr. Jason Altieri, announced that we would be performing at Carnegie Hall the next year. You could hear the excited chitters and quacks emanating from the room from my fellow young musicians. I, too, was quite ecstatic at this news; I had never played at Carnegie Hall before and was excited to share the experience with some of my closest friends. I saw visions of velvety red curtains and the grandeur ceiling art dancing before my eyes. We were also informed that we would be performing the entire Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky, which was another delightful surprise in itself because it is a difficult yet beautiful piece that is renowned throughout the music community. As an ensemble, we would have to hone our craft and strive for musical prowess in the coming year in order to give a magnificent concert at Carnegie Hall that we would never be able to forget.
After a year of intense rehearsals, failed attempts, and lectures from our conductor, we made it to New York. For some of the musicians in the orchestra, they had never traveled past the west of the country, so just being present in the towering city of Manhattan was a life-altering experience in itself. For the duration of the first couple of days in New York City, we toured the city and feasted our eyes upon the entertainment and urban sights it had to offer.
Finally, the day had come. The tour bus turned the corner to reveal flags imprinted with the familiar serif black font reading “Carnegie Hall”. I remember in the first moments of sitting on stage, I just tilted my head towards the ceiling and basked in the heat from the glittering stage lights. Along with last minute tuning tweaks and adjustments, there were intangible emotions of anticipation and glee pumping through everyone’s veins and releasing into the air. We began to perform our set of three pieces, and the first two pieces went by like a breeze. And then it was time for Firebird. I poured all my energy, emotions, and musicianship into that last piece and made sure to utilize all the musical training I had received so far and give it back to the world.
When we reached the last movement, the Finale, I felt a slight tug of tears rising when our first horn player hit the first couple of notes of her solo; she had been struggling with that section earlier in the week, and at that moment of relief I knew that the rest of the movement would be amazing. In the last couple measures of the piece when the brass release their powerful chords, every musician on stage was pouring out the notes with such vivaciousness and power through the vibrations of our instruments. I felt my tears sting my eyes. During the course of the several months perfecting this piece, we had encountered many wrong notes, occasional tears, and some painfully cringe-worthy moments; however, I believe that when we did that final performance on the Carnegie Hall stage, it was the first time we ran through the piece with no regrets.
Once the applause and repeated bows settled down and everyone was exiting the stage, I wanted to experience the incredible acoustics of the hall to the fullest; so, I decided to play the highest note possible on the piccolo to hear how the piercing screech of the instrument sounded alone in the hall. It had a satisfying ring. After all, I don’t know how long it will be until I return to that stage (although I hope it’s soon!). My friends and I chuckled and walked off the stage.