Saturday, November 20, 2010

An unexpected blessing

I was not having a good day. I had been forced to stay at work longer than I had wanted to and so would have to use more sick time in order to go to the bank. I got on the subway and fell asleep just before we got to the station at which I had to transfer and consequently missed it, which meant I would be late. After missing the stop, I tried to identify the best way to get to my destination and it was a bit complicated. I ended up getting further away from my destination and so even though the doctor’s office had told me that it was alright (and I knew that it was), it annoyed me to no end. So I ended up being about 30 minutes late and was not in the best of spirits by the time I go to my appointment. That said, the appointment went off just fine and I learned that I do not have any pressing medical issues. However, it had not been the best day and I was not in the best mood as I descended the stairway from the appointment in the hospital and I heard the velvet tones of a B-flat clarinet. This was a bit surprising. Why would there be a live clarinet playing at the hospital? I was particularly interested because I played clarinet for a long time and really loved playing it. The sound I heard was awfully soothing and it was a perfect tone. As I descended the stairs, I saw an incongruous sight. In the lobby area there was an orchestra set up. It was bootheeled amid the chairs between the snack stand and the front entrance. The strings were flat (sorry, from having played in an orchestra, the tendency to evaluate the pitch of the various instruments is second nature ☺) but the clarinet soloist was wonderful. He had polished his clarinet so the keys and valves glinted gaudily. More than that though, his tone was assured, his phrasing competent, and his musicianship very good. The piece they played was a concerto for two clarinets by Stamitz and even though the quality of the playing was not particularly good from the orchestra at large, it was nevertheless enjoyable and heart-warming. I was not the only one enjoying it. There were probably 100-120 people watching the performance and most of the assembled were there for a good length of time. Some appeared to be patients, some seemed to be the family members of the ill. Obviously it’s not news that music soothes the troubled mind, but discovering an orchestra playing in a hospital lobby after an unpleasant day certainly put a nice bow on a day which until then had been a bit of a gag gift.

It’s funny how one’s day is turned sharply by something as simple as a musical performance, but sitting there, basking in the community orchestra certainly drastically improved my mood and had me leaving what is typically not the most pleasant place, with a smile on my face.