Last week, I kept warning the many friends who came to witness my debut concerts with the San Francisco Symphony that I only had "five minutes of glory" in the program, feeling slightly guilty that they were going to sit through the entirety of the concerts just to see me sing. Of course, being a tenor, the thought that they would enjoy the parts of the concert that didn't include me didn't cross my mind until they all expressed their thoughts on the program in my dressing room after.
In actuality, my responsibilities in the Schubert Mass No. 6 in E-flat major amounted to much less than five minutes of glory – it was much closer to about two and half to three minutes of the roughly 51 minute piece. But a glorious few minutes they were. In our second and last rehearsal, Maestro referred to the section in which I sang (the "Et incarnates est" section of the Credo – a trio in A-flat for two tenors and a soprano in this Schubert setting) as follows: "For the audience, there is life before hearing the 'Et incarnatus' and then there is life after hearing the 'Et incarnatus'." After hearing that, a cellist sitting behind me muttered, "Whoa – no pressure…", sending the entire lower strings and myself into fits of laughter. For the rest of the Mass, I sat at the front of the stage in my tails (and in my new suit on Thursday afternoon) listening to Schubert's music and trying to look appropriately engaged and respectable.
The most frequently asked question last week was "what are you thinking while you are sitting up there?" Here are is a sampling, in no particular order, of some of the random thoughts that went through my head during the four concerts:
- I love this 'Kyrie'
- There are four people asleep in the center section of the audience
- Wow, this chorus sounds good.
- Oh, there's Debbie and Will.
- Wow, MTT is really committed to everything he does 150%. I could learn a lot from watching this man. It's like he has no fear and his completely and solely focused on the music and how he wants it to be shaped. It's such a calm and yet intensely passionate focus. Amazing.
- I wonder what the median age of this audience is today?
- That measure sounded so much like Mahler
- That passage sounds just like the Verdi Requiem
- The bass is walking out incredibly slowly today
- Why is everyone I got tickets for sitting so close?
- Why is that woman leaving now, of all times?
- It's so quiet during this pause! No coughing! Who knew it could be possible?
- I really am looking forward to eating that burger at Zuni tonight
- I hope I wasn't flat…
- The ladies of the chorus are always so in tune there – it's so lovely
- Ahhh…another fugal finish…