When does one stop playing the music and start channeling it? To say that I’ve simply watched Arabella Steinbacher or that I’ve heard her play would be a ridiculous oversimplification of my experience on Friday. Ms. Steinbacher and I went through it all together—the graveyard, the sprightly jaunt through the countryside, the agony of death and the ecstatic joy of being alive. She took us all along for the ride via a brilliant musical effusion. Her music was both delicate and forceful in tandem. She was a demure kitten one moment and a powerful lioness the next. She and the orchestra fed from each other to create a moving performance of emotionally-draining music.
I wanted to call my therapist by the end of the evening.
And of course, because I have the attention span of a fruit fly, my concentration was divided between the beguiling music and the beguiling violinist. Ms. Steinbacher’s biography details her numerous professional accomplishments and richly-deserved accolades. As I watched her play with such ardent passion and devotion to her craft, I became intrigued. What drives her? Something is planted deeply in her soul and it manifests itself as the glorious celebration that Ms. Steinbacher produces with her violin. Which life experiences have empowered her to create such brilliance?
Anyone can learn musical notes and play them in an academic sense. (Except for me, perhaps…I failed flute class in the fourth grade, much to the horror of my family. We don’t discuss it.) Only those who are blessed (or cursed) with deeply-rooted talent and passion can channel music. As a good friend of mine often says, “it gets in you.”
It’s obvious that Ms. Steinbacher’s spirit is moved during her performances. Those of us who are open to it are moved, as well. This is the greatest gift that the symphony gives to its audience. It is this duet—the pure emotion that the musicians emanate and the reciprocation that they receive from the audience—that makes the symphony experience magical. This is why I am becoming addicted to the symphony. I hope that the PSO is developing its own 12-step program. I will be a mess when the season ends.