Thomas Schippers was conducting the first rehearsal of the CSO's new season. A full orchestra transcription of Clementi's 4th symphony was to begin the rehearsal, not exactly an old familiar warhorse, but a challenge none the less. It was September 15, 1975, and I was there! It was officially day #1 for me as principal trumpet. Adrenaline was flowing even though it was only Clementi, and those first concerts went well.
That first weekend of concerts came and went, like they always do. As a 28 year old it was especially exciting. Schippers could manage to make any score that way. You knew great music was going to be made, but it was often hard to get your arms around it. Reading precision in his moves was a challenge. He was all about creating a beautiful forest. Nuancing the details of the trees was our responsibility. Frustrating as that could be, he was usually forgiven because we knew that the end product was going to be successful. I am sure the extra pressure improved our skills. One occasionally was reminded of racing through a tunnel with no lights on! We always came out of it unscathed finding the audience applauding wildly. Amazing!
Today is my last official day with the CSO. Hundreds if not thousands of rehearsals and concerts have come and gone, maybe "millions and millions!" Therapy for some of the slugfest weeks was always "it will pass". What a job when you consider that symphony work is different every week and the menu is never the same. Better than "it will pass" is "what can we do in this music that will interest listeners?" Instead of just getting through it, enjoy the challenge of creating great moments of music.
My last official assignment is on that same stage. No longer "a new guy," "one of the guys", or one of the "old guys" in the orchestra, I join the rank of "retired guys". I must simply show up for a brief moment that too will pass. The notes have all been played and the concerts are history. They are all also memories that I can recall in an instant. Only those and the friendships remain along with much gratefulness for the privilege of contributing to great music-making for 31 years.