Monday, February 27, 2006

Me and Sasha

As a musician, I love the Olympics. Things have been pretty busy but I managed to watch as much of the games as I could. Having taken auditions, I can begin to relate to the pressure the athletes must feel as they train for so long only to have everything crystalize into one "live or die" moment.
As I watched Sasha Cohan skate her first program, an interesting parallel occured to me, an audition I'd rather forget.
SASHA: Skating a clean first program. Nice jumps. Good confidence.
ME: Good first round. Stuck to my game plan. Played well. (I found out later they almost decided to stop the audition right there).
SASHA: Here comes the press. "Sasha is the leader. Sasha has trouble skating two clean programs in a row. Will Sasha choke?"
ME: The conventional wisdom: he already won a one-year position with the orchestra before. He's the professor at USC. Of course he'll easily win this audition right? In other words, everything to lose, nothing to gain. [Not quite the same as Sasha, I'll admit. Maybe this post should be titled "Me and Irena"]
SASHA: Second program, first jump...she falls. Stumbles on the second jump. Finishes well but it's too late. Now the press hounds will be all over her.
ME: Second round, first note (Mahler 3). I butcher the first note. I have some idea why: I tried to play too loud, I had been messing with lead pipes and a new valve, I was nervous, I didn't warm-up or get focused for the second round. Still, same result: I sent that note to Baghdad with no return address. They should have called in the janitors to mop it up as it lay quivering on the floor. A colleague on the other side of the screen said the conductor's body just went rigid as if some electric shock had been delivered. This was followed by some furious scribbling in his notes. Not a good sign, I believe.
SASHA: Ends up with a silver medal.
ME: I end up losing the audition and having to tell everyone I blew it when I was supposed to coast to victory.

OK, Sasha's a lot prettier and more famous. But, on some level, I can really relate. When the smoke clears, life goes on and we are all older and (hopefully) wiser.