It must be one of the near-ubiquitous experiences of childhood: the odious relation or friend of the family who arrives and promptly expresses shock and dismay at the extent to which you’ve grown. In my case, the remarks were generally treated with well-deserved scorn and indignation. After all, it was the world that changed around me, the pantry shelves that descended to my arms, the floor that distanced itself from my eyes, rather than the other way around. Surely I had no culpability.
I have more sympathy for the odious relation now. The power and capacity of youth to adapt and to grow, beyond the physical dimension, is nothing short of astonishing, and I saw it firsthand within the space of two weeks. Where else but in Venezuela – and Acarigua?
It’s not necessary to go into details of the concert, or to express my emotional reaction to it…again. I’ve said as much before. There were no dogs fighting, but there were fireworks from a private event; no drunks, but a constant stream of traffic from the neighbouring autopista. The only source of irritation was that the originator of the fireworks, some two kilometers distant, didn’t bother to synchronize them with our rendition of 1812 Overture. You can’t have everything, I guess.
But you can still have a great deal, and what we had in two weeks was a monumental, massive degree of change and growth in the musicians. I compare our first reading of Beethoven Symphony No. 5 with the performance last Friday (via a Flipcam recording hopefully to be online soon) and cannot believe the difference. In the space of two weeks the musicians superseded the extraordinary ensemble and technical challenges to present not a reading or rendition of the work, but the heart of the work itself. (For the majority, this was the first time they had attempted anything other than the first movement.) Doubtlessly they consider me a cruel and demanding taskmaster, but my role was to get the best from them in 2 weeks, and I think I succeeded.
This was it – Tocar y Luchar. But in recent days as I’ve pondered those words, I’ve come to realize that while they reflect the spirit of the movement beautifully, they don’t reflect the process. At its heart, Ensemble music making isn’t just Tocar y Luchar, or”To Play and to Struggle” but Luchar y Lograr – “To Struggle and to Succeed”. It’s simple. Without success, struggle is demoralizing. Without struggle, success has no meaning. The value of what we accomplished together is measured only in terms of how difficult it was to achieve, which, as paralleled in a journey from dark c-minor to resplendent C Major, makes our collective accomplishment near priceless.