The Red Violinist
“There is nothing more difficult than talking about music.”
-Camille Saint- Saëns
I realize the irony of this quote when writing a blog about music. However, Mr. Saint- Saëns, I will give it my best shot!
A year ago this month, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Wichita Youth Symphony Concert at Century II Concert Hall in Wichita, KS. With my husband on my left, snapping photos on his extended lens Canon, and my 4-month-old baby on my right, sleeping blissfully much to my relief, I settled in for the second half of the concert. The entire hall was packed with about 2,000 people in attendance, the concertmaster had tuned the orchestra and taken her seat, and I waited in excited anticipation for the star to arrive. Suddenly, a beautiful girl walked across the stage in a sparkling, floor-length red gown. Her golden curls cascaded gently over her shoulders, and she bowed gracefully to the audience. The members of the youngest orchestra sat in the front, gazing in awe at this high school senior, hoping that one day they could stand in her shoes. The conductor took his place on the podium, and the soft strains of Saint-Saëns’ “Havanaise” began to permeate he hall. The opening was sweet and nonchalant, evocative of a peaceful French countryside. However, the following section showed a fiery side to the young performer that defied her age. I watched as her fingers flew over the strings, one after the other in rapid succession. The French piece lent itself to drama, and the young star gave it the perfect blend of relaxation and passion. After an intense passage of tenths (large stretches for violinists’ fingers) and brisk 16th notes, she finished the piece with a happy, carefree melody that floated off into the distance.
With tears in my eyes, I climbed the stairs onto the stage as she took a bow. I walked over to present her with a bouquet of roses, and gave her a proud, sisterly hug. “You were wonderful!” I whispered. “I’m so proud of you!” She smiled as she took the flowers and walked graciously off stage. What a magical moment!
This concert held special significance for my family, because Christy, the star of our story today, is the youngest sister of we five. All of us came back to our hometown for this special occasion, along with our families, to celebrate Christy’s accomplishment. I couldn’t help but think back on my own senior solo several years ago (I won’t betray my age, but we’ll just say I now celebrate a yearly 29th birthday…), as well as those of my other sisters. We had all won this special opportunity to perform our solos with the orchestra, so the pressure on Christy had been immense. However, she rose to the challenge and performed her song with flair and finesse!
P.S. Interestingly, four of the five of us performed different works of Camille Saint-Saëns, including his Concerto #3 in B minor, 1st movement, 3rd movement, Rondo and Capriccioso, and the Havanaise. Kerri, the fourth sister, branched out to another French composer, Eduard Lalo, performing the 5th movement of his Symphonie Espagnole. They are all wonderful works, but as Saint- Saëns mentioned in his quote, words can’t fully do them justice. So if you get the chance, look them up and take a listen!
First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.