Thursday, November 18, 2010

Come & Play: What It's Really Like...


COME AND PLAY – from the perspective of a member of the crowd
Aaron Ellerbrock

Crowds!! I normally hate them. I mean come on, who doesn’t? I spend my life packed into a little sardine can flying from one end of the world to the other. So why does the fall season, with its promise of one of the biggest crowds I will encounter, make me as giddy and excited as Ralphie of A Christmas Story awaiting his Red Ryder BB Gun? The answer is because of the Richmond Symphony’s annual Come and Play!

I have had the pleasure of playing in this fantastic concert every year since Erin Freeman and the RSO Education Team came up with the concept 4 years ago. I have watched it grow from a huge ensemble its first year to something of epic proportions this year. It is crazy to think that I am playing in an orchestra that is 6, 7, 8 times the size of a normal one. Who gets to do that?

Seeing all the young musicians at Come and Play, helping them tune, maybe even giving them a tip on how to play a certain passage, gives me the opportunity to pay back my debt to all those who inspired me to make music a life long journey. (Thank you, Mrs. Krug and Mrs. Coffey).  Listening to the more “mature players” (a much nicer way to refer to us older folks) share stories about how music has shaped their lives fills me with such excitement that the unheard of happens…I can’t wait for the crowd to get even bigger.

I have lived in several cities that are known for their outstanding orchestras; DC, New York, Cincinnati. I have sat mesmerized and totally immersed in the beautiful music they play as my mind draws images that helps the music tell a story. However, I truly believe the Richmond Symphony with its Come and Play has the greatest story ever to be told. It is a story full of energy, mystery, anticipation, love, commitment, and caring. No matter if you are playing in the ensemble or participating as a listener you can’t help but be drawn into the story. And the great thing is: it is always a happy ending.

Playing in this ensemble has given me so much. I think the most important thing is that I feel a true sense of community. Each year I become more a part of Richmond, of music education, and of feeling pride in one of our city’s greatest treasures, the Richmond Symphony. So bring on the crowds! May they continue to grow every year. Let’s fill the Siegel Center to capacity and make history as Dr. Freeman conducts the largest orchestra the world has ever seen! Who knows, maybe next year we can play something from The Music Man and actually have 76 trombones! OK…now I must sign off as the airline tries to figure out how to fit 175 passengers onto a 160 seat plane. Crowds!!!!! 

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