By Allison Follbaum
The piercing musicality of the bagpipes is echoing in my ears as I sit backstage at the Michigan Philharmonic's Highland Pipes concert. The sound of bagpipes is almost indescribable. It would almost be an annoying drone except for the calming buzzing beauty and sheer magnitude of the sound.
Watching the kids run around before the concert took me back to my side-by-side concert experiences with MYPO (formerly known as CYO or Celebration Youth Orchestra).
I played with the orchestra for five years; a violinist who didn't practice as much as she should have, but loving the creative outlet that performing gave. There was a purpose to the tedious hours of practice and endless scales; and to the lessons, and the frustration at trying to learn new skills.
I loved playing in the side-by-side concerts because it gave me a boost of inspiration. Perhaps I could aspire to be like these smartly dressed men and women and perform professionally? Then I could fulfill my dream of playing at Carnegie Hall!
The adults were kind, asking what school we went to and how long we had been playing. Sometimes I was a little starstruck.
The music always challenged; we were playing real music after all. No "arranged by" 's or "taken from." These were the pieces that you heard on CDs and on the radio. Sometimes they had three or four movements, taking 15 minutes to play, your arm aching after the first movement.
I loved when the concertmaster stood up to direct the pre-concert tuning. I've never been able to pin down exactly why that's my favorite part, but even when attending a concert, I like to close my eyes and just listen to all the sounds mingling and melding together after that A from the oboe.
One of the knowledge gems that I received from involvement with the Michigan Phil is that if you want to pursue your dreams, you can. Everyone has the potential to succeed if you aspire for greatness, even when it comes to a competitive field like musical performance.
For me, I just want to be able to play the violin part of Pachabel's Canon in D with my dad, at my wedding. Luckily, there's no fancy shifts in that piece.
Allison Follbaum currently interns for Michigan Philharmonic, while avoiding the adult world after graduation. As an alumni of MYPO and a sister of a current student, she loves any excuse to get involved in the arts, especially with the Michigan Philharmonic. Caught between love for journalism and public relations, she currently works part time at a law firm and freelances on the side. Her favorite piece of classical music is Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.