They began with Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice and ended with Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, and while I don't think I could flaw either performance, it was really the second piece that stole my attention. An enrapturing Violin Concerto by composer Bright Sheng it featured Israeli-American violinist Gil Shaham. In many ways it reminded me of an epic film soundtrack with interspersions of reflective solitude in a lush, hidden forest. The soloist was the clear star of the show with the entire orchestra backing him up like supporting cast members: talented and necessary but not what we have our eyes (or ears) on.
Shaham put his entire self into the performance: his body moved about in wide, fluid gestures and his smile indicated his clear love for the violin. In the moments when he had a break from playing, he would watch the rest of the orchestra, delighted, or so it seemed, by his own presence amongst such talent.
This piece in its entirety, from the passionate solo violin to the epic explosions from the orchestra, moved me so deeply that my changing emotions were determined by the changes in music. In one sense I was entirely relaxed, allowing the symphony to direct me, yet, in another, I was so fully engaged that I was exhausted by the end of it. It was almost like being part of the world that the composer had sought to create. What seemed like intense battle moments or perhaps incensed arguments, felt like just that: tiresome and depleting but also bold and daring. And when the music slowed to sound like romantic getaways of star-crossed lovers, it felt like my heart was sprinkled with the drops of rain that dotted the heavy-laden leaves of a forgotten forest where the lovers would meet.
I cried, not out of sorrow or anger or fear, but out of sense of subconscious empathy and communion with whomever is cursed to experience such a tragic fluctuation of experiences and emotions. But perhaps that is all of us at one point or another in our lives. So, in that sense, Sheng's piece and the performance by Shaham and the entire Orchestra, was like a small musical illustration of the human experience. And how very beautiful the human experience is.