Overall I felt that things went pretty well.
I showed up just after 12:00 and checked in. There were about 8-10 of us in a group room where we could play or sit. Fairly young batch of oboists. Nobody really played in here knowing we'd get about 20 minutes in a private room to warm up. I tried to stay focused and energized. I looked through a few more parts to mentally prepare and listened to some Kendrick Lamar. We each drew numbers to see the order of who would play. I got number 5. They came for people one by one and soon it was my turn.
I went into a practice room and had a nice little warm up and made the final decision on which reed I'd use. At this point I was a little more shaky and overall nervous than I would have liked. I felt like it got a little better as I warmed up. They came to get me after about 25 minutes.
I took the elevator up a floor and walked to the backstage of the main hall at Symphony Center. The guy before me was already packing up, so I set my stuff down, played a couple notes, and then followed a moderator out onto the stage. I got set up and away I went.
I started with the Mozart Concerto. I got through about a page of it before they said that was enough. Then the moderator showed me an excerpt to play (Beethoven 3), followed by Rossini's The Silken Ladder. I thought the excerpts went better than the solo. The solo had some weird moments where it felt like my head was detached from my fingers and a couple times some weird sounds came out. Nerves. During the excerpts I felt a bit more confident. I did flash a smile to myself as I realized where I was. Such a notable stage in all its grandeur. Once done with Rossini they thanked me for my time. All in all, less than 10 minutes out there.
I felt a mixture of things. It's just strange once it's over. I, of course, would have loved to feel like I had really blown them away and I was at 120% of myself. That wasn't the case. I had done my best. It was nice, good, but human, and not earth shattering. They had us wait as the last person finished up. They'd tell us if anyone advanced before we left. After about 10 minutes of mostly stifled and stressed (just me?) silence, they thanked us and said nobody advanced to the next round.
I smiled and gathered my things. I wasn't surprised and I wasn't upset.
As I made my way out to the street, I was met by a beautiful, sunny day in downtown Chicago. The "what does it all mean"-ness of the event was lingering as I made my way back to the train. I treated myself to a Starbucks iced coffee and headed underground.
While waiting on the results I briefly spoke with a fellow auditioner from Houston. I gathered she had finished a Masters in oboe and done part of an Artist's Certificate, as well. I thought about the hours we all in that room had committed to this instrument. The hours we had committed to just this audition. The plans. The traveling. The effect it had on our loved ones and friends. The effect it had on us personally. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally.
On the train a man complimented another man on his tattoo or something and struck up a friendly, out-of-the-blue conversation. It was a full car of people of every shape, age, race and size. We were all going somewhere and we were doing it together. A friendly conversation going on. People coming from a baseball game. Coming out from underground there was that sun again. The summer in Chicago-- a sweet release from the clasp of cold and dark months prior.
It's so nice to see your effort barrel down one direction, followed by rewards and accolades swinging back at you. It's inertia and it's satisfying. It's the tavern door of science that makes us feel good. So much of the world's idea of success is also built around that. If we 'fail,' it's a fault in the system, or worse, in ourselves. How can we deal with that? Where is the justice?
I just finished a book entitled "The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life." It's great. It proposes the consideration of an idea I've heard before. "In observing a flower-- at what point in a flower's life, from seed to full bloom, does it reach perfection?"
Today it could have been great to get a direct line of validation straight from where I wanted it. From the committee. From myself, even. But even more validating than all that was literally everything else-- My process in considering, preparing and getting there today. My support systems who encouraged me. Standing on that stage. The warm sunshine. All of us on the train. Overhearing a friendly conversation between strangers. And, most of all, the unshakable truth that we are always moving forward and that every moment along the way is perfect.
"Like the flower, realize that at whatever level you are performing, you are perfect at that point in time. You [can] experience a tremendous relief from the fictitious, self-imposed pressures and expectations that only slow your progress."
A place for thoughts and discussions. I mean, like, we all have them.