As the musicians filed into the empty concert hall, very few said anything. Most could not believe they were here doing this, and they wondered where they would get the strength from. It was their first rehearsal since the explosion, and they were all still grieving.
The first hour did not go well. Some were weeping as they played and they all had difficulty concentrating. More than one person excused themselves for a few minutes, to gather themselves, and then they came back, in the middle of the piece. Violinist Harriet Clarke walked off, in the middle of the 9th Symphony. Everyone heard her, off stage, sobbing huge sobs. The conductor stopped the orchestra and waited. When Harriet returned, they began again, from the beginning.
Something unusual took place though, after that first hour. It was not simply the music soothing their souls (although that was happening), the orchestra became…..well…..determined. A sense of resolve began to develop. Each person started believing that they could do this. And more – each person began believing they needed to do this. The music began to flow, a bit choppy at times, but it flowed. After several days of rehearsals, including on the afternoon of the concert, they all knew they were ready.
The orchestra would start with a modern piece, entitled, “Healing”, chosen specifically for this concert. Debbie would have a brief solo in this, and then they would launch into Vivaldi’s “Spring”, and then “Summer”, and most of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The pieces were chosen specifically for this concert.
That night the concert hall began to fill quickly. There was a tension in the air, and excitement too. There was tension from being only one block from where the explosion occurred, and an excitement because they all knew this concert would be special. It was the beginning of a process, for healing.
Then it was time for the musicians to take the stage. They began warming up, and making final adjustments. The conductor walked out, to the podium where he had his back to the audience. He made sure he had what he needed, including several batons. As he looked over the orchestra, he had a tremendous sense of pride in each one of them. As far as he was concerned, they were all courageous warriors, fighting despair and fear, refusing to give up. Several of them had been injured in the explosion, including Debbie. He saw her watching, and they both smiled at each other, confident they would win this battle.
A reverent hush fell over the audience as the lights went down. Each musician poised themselves in the ready position. Energy, and that newly found determination, filled each one of them. And then – they were launched by the conductor. The nervousness of the orchestra vanished as soon as they began playing. The first piece, “Healing”, had a burst in the beginning, and loud percussions. Then the strings slowed the piece down, with sorrowful, weeping type of notes, and a slow tempo. At was at this point that Debbie’s solo came in, and she was ready for it.
First there was the slow, weeping sound that only a cello could make. Everyone was feeling the emotion, of the music and the playing of it. Debbie was lost in it and began weeping, but she played it flawlessly. Then the pace began to quicken and there short bursts from her instrument, symbolizing anger. All of the anguish she had been feeling came through her playing. It was tangible. The orchestra felt it, and the audience felt it. The audience experienced the emotion through Debbie’s cello. Tears began to flow.
Gradually the pace slowed again, and the rest of the orchestra joined in for the transition of life returning. The orchestra was energized as a result of this piece. They seemed to be on fire the rest of the night. It was without question their greatest performance. They were doing battle, and victory was theirs! The audience experienced victory as well, as they lived the music, and let it heal them.
After the performance, the audience erupted. They cheered, and yelled, and clapped, all at the same time. Yes, they would survive! They would all keep fighting, and never give up. Never! Many came onto the stage and gave hugs to the orchestra. There was back slapping and hand shaking. It was indeed a celebration of life.
Two weeks after the concert, a memorial service was held for the victims, and their families, in the city’s largest cathedral. There were a lot of good things said. Candles were lit, prayers were said, and it was good because the people received comfort. There was a sense of community, and togetherness.
The most memorable part came at the end, when a one armed woman by the name of Katherine Harrison came to the podium. She mentioned she not only lost her arm, but her seven year old son, in the explosion. She spoke briefly about the incredible anguish, and her grief. There was not a dry eye in the place. But then strangely she switched her speech to the topic of……forgiveness. She spoke about what forgiveness was and what it was not. “I’m not there yet…” “…but I’m working on it”. She thought forgiveness was refusing to hate, and continuing to love no matter what. She then read a quote from Mahatma Gandhi which said, “An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind”. It was true and everybody knew it.
Writing © Copyright 2015, nicodemasplusthree
images from google