Thursday, August 27, 2020

Some good thoughts from Justin Bruns, Assistant Concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

 Justin posted this on Facebook today.  It's thoughtful and full of warmth and humanity. (Used with is permission)

One rarely sees their instrument taken apart. As it turns out, it’s a wildly emotional and vulnerable experience.
Just as my colleagues and mentors have, I’ve spent countless hours a day throughout my life looking at instructions on a page of a score trying to decipher what all of the musical directions mean to communicate. It’s not just things like loud or soft, separate or connected articulations, tempos and key signatures, but the pursuit of a greater-than-the-sum emotional statement by that manipulation of sound through time. I pour all of who I am into the process, imagining and visualizing how to create music that is genuinely personal, vivid and the most impactful to those who encounter it. But without a block of wood resting between my left thumb and index finger and between my chin and shoulder, none of those potential conceptions ever achieves a kinetic reality.
To my mind, once the violin leaves the case it really isn’t an inanimate object anymore; it breathes, physically expands and contracts, warms in my hold, adapts to the climate, and opens itself up to life. In the process of practicing, honing, and performing, an intimate relationship develops between player and instrument. I have changed from playing it and so has my playing. This is true for every violin I’ve played. It’s technically my possession, but history has loaned it to me from one point in time to another as a caretaker and safeguard from avoidable harm so it can be handed off to another capable player sometime. It could be a soulmate, or at least a bonded partner in the effort of producing art. I believe it’s the former.
I got to view close-up the imperfections in the wood, the discolorations and centuries-old wear for the first time. All of this is so fallibly human-like when juxtaposed with the quality of construction and craftsmanship. I’ve known for years how much power and malleability the violin is capable of ceding and these cumulative realizations completely overwhelm me. I’m grateful to share life and the stage with this fiddle for however long we’re together and grateful to those who help keep a watchful eye on its health and well-being.

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