I walked over there with a group of people and got there slightly before 10:30. Luckily I had brought my student card, so I got a significantly reduced rate to get inside. The first animal we saw was a snake, and I got to pet it, hehehe. There were all sorts of neat animals in there, from bugs to spiders (yuck!) to fish to a HUGE crocodile that was super awesome, as well as the cute koalas and kangaroos. I took a lot of pictures.
I picked up some souvenirs before racing back to the hotel to pick up my instrument and run over to the SOH for rehearsal in the concert hall. It seemed that everybody was running a bit late, because as I got there a bunch of people came out of the elevator and still more people were just walking in the door to the hotel. I made it to rehearsal just fine, though. We changed the order of the program a bit to put the Berlioz first instead of the Grainger, which I think was a good call. The Roman Carnival Overture is pretty flashy, so it’s a great piece to start a concert. Everything else was the same except for that. We played mostly starts and stops so the techies could get everything going smoothly, and it gave us another chance to watch the videos before the concert since we couldn’t necessarily be looking over our shoulders at the projector screen during the grand finale. I went back to the hotel with a few friends and relaxed in the hotel room for a bit before going out for a little walk by myself. It was nice to be alone for a little bit and just think the whole week over to myself. This has been such an incredibly special experience and I don’t want to forget a moment of it.
We had a “light supper” at 5:00 (actually it was the same size as the other suppers we had, but nobody was complaining!). I chatted with people for a while afterwards, because it was the last evening meal we’d be eating together. That was sad. Somehow, it was strange to imagine that it was almost over. We tried not to think about it, though, and just enjoy ourselves while we were together. We watched Perlman Shreds Mendelssohn again (gets me every time…) and showed it to Tamas, the cello mentor. I went upstairs to get changed for the concert, then met people downstairs to walk over to the opera house one more time. It’s a beautiful walk along the harbour… I’m going to miss it.
I’m going to miss everything.
We were in the Red Room by 7:15, where everybody was taking pictures with each other, mostly using our phones. I’m glad I got pictures with people because I haven’t done near enough of that since I got here because I was too busy enjoying myself! Finally, at 7:50, we were called onstage to play the concert. There was some cheering, then we all headed up to take our seats onstage in the concert hall.
The audience was PACKED. It was a sold-out concert, and boy can you fit a lot of people in that hall! This concert was very different from other concerts, because instead of asking you to turn off your mobile devices and prohibiting photography and video, they encouraged you to take photos and video in order to remember it and show it to others. I thought that was so interesting, and a neat idea for a YouTube Symphony Orchestra.
The concert went without a hitch. Everything went so well, all the pieces were wonderful, the soloists were on fire, and the ensemble was fantastic. I’ve never felt so connected to people when I play in an orchestra as I have this week. It was an incredible feeling, friends from 33 different countries who’d known each other only a week, all making music together. Truly priceless.
My favorites are still Britten and Stravinsky. I sang the fugue a whole lot during break, of course. After the Stravinsky, I felt the post-performance letdown starting to take over, but I couldn’t possibly let the tears come while I was onstage. Schubert’s Rosamunde was our encore, and after that, it was over. Really over… how strange. Months of anticipation all leading up to this one week and this one concert, and it was over so incredibly fast.
I did cry a bit once I got offstage, I couldn’t help myself… it was one of the best weeks of my life, and suddenly the moment we’d all been waiting for had come and gone. What an incredible memory.
AND I PLAYED IN THE CONCERT HALL AT THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After the concert, they had set up an after party in the Studio, where we had our first rehearsal. I was in the first group they took over there. There were streamers and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and festive decorations everywhere. Music was playing, the bar was open, appetizers were everywhere, and the most wonderful musicians and friends were there to spend time with. For the first little bit, we all just hung out and walked around talking to each other. Then, they roped off a section of the floor and a CONTORTIONIST CAME DOWN FROM THE CEILING. It was like Cirque du Soleil RIGHT THERE in front of us. We went crazy, naturally, it was so cool! It served as a great introduction to all the dancing that followed afterwards. Everybody was having a fantastic time and it was the perfect way to wrap up an incredible week.
The celebration ended at about 3:30 in the morning. Boy, Google, you really know how to throw a party!
Thank you for everything, YTSO. It’s been absolutely unbelievable and I can’t believe it’s over. I’ve made the most wonderful friends from all over the world and played some fabulous music with them. I’m… speechless. I miss you guys already. Much love to you all and please keep in touch!
See you, Sydney. It’s been a blast!