As I entered Heinz Hall last Friday for the season finale, I had a fluttery, last-day-of-school kind of feeling, sans the relief of the conclusion of academic drudgery. I attended the performance alone this time, which is truly one of my favorite ways of experiencing the symphony. Being there, in Heinz Hall with the beautiful décor and the thrill of the music, can be such a personal experience. Don’t get me wrong—I love to attend with friends and compare opinions about, and reactions to, the performance afterward (preferably over cocktails—just sayin’). Going solo, however, allowed for some “Jen time.” It was me, the music, and all of the emotional meanderings that I could indulge for 94 minutes. And I was pretty emotional—so much so, in fact, that I cried during Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. I don’t have the slightest notion as to what provoked the waterworks, but I love the fact that I didn’t have to explain why I was a snotty mess to anyone. I had a moment that was beautiful, moving and inexplicable, one that I certainly would not have experienced anywhere else. Peter Latham captured the feeling perfectly when he described Brahms’ Symphony as being “an assertion of the spirit of man.” (Thanks for the quote, Program Gods.) What else is music but a soundtrack to divinity, an audible extension of human emotion? It’s a language that unites all of us in a communal manner, yet in highly individual ways. It can reach the soul when words fail. I think that’s why I cried.
I had expected the season to end with dramatic flair, and indeed, it did. Braunfels’ Fantastic Appearances of a Theme by Hector Berlioz was thrilling; in fact, the entire program was the perfect punctuation to a wonderful season. I attended the meet-and-greet after the performance, during which I had the opportunity to hear both Manfred Honeck and pianist Emanuel Ax speak briefly. One of my fellow bloggers, Doug Bauman, listened to me patiently as I gushed about the high “adorableness factor” that Mr. Ax possesses. He was extremely soft spoken and shy; it’s interesting to juxtapose his on-stage personality with his quiet off-stage presence. It seems almost shocking to me that such a calm, tame person can attack the piano with such gusto and fury. I wanted to hug him, but I didn’t want to be creepy. (As an aside, the red velvet cake that was served at the reception was amazing. Just thought I’d share.)
I’m sure that I’ve mentioned this one or two hundred times already, but I am looking forward to next season with marked anticipation. And I can’t wait for the return of Mr. Joshua Bell. It will be epic.