A thousand pairs of eyes were fixed intently upon Roberto and as many ears attuned to what lush tones were presently to surge forth from his violin. There was talk, fervid speculation and scarcely bridled anticipation over what surely was to become the musical sensation of the decade. The timid and unassuming young man, who had long since captured the hearts of his peers as well as those uninitiated into the music of the spheres, was ready. His nervousness, certainly typical for many a young musician making his debut, was not evident to the expectant patrons in the now darkened music hall.
The opening orchestral accompaniment provided a brief, measured entrance into the elegant fantasy for the stringed instrument whose soulful voice sings with a true heart of human emotion. It goes without saying that, in less skilled hands, the resultant caterwauling of bow to strings would have a horrified audience running for the door and demanding a refund. Surely, that rarely happens. Bad musicians - or simply the mediocre - do not make their entrance into the music world with The Fontanne Theatre their stage.
Roberto, on cue, began his dialogue with the orchestra, employing his cherished violin as spokesman. The audience, falling upon the instrument's every word, was entranced into breathless silence. The young wizard, melding his heart and soul with the plaintive, the throbbing, the climactic crescendi of the four strings over which he possessed total but loving dominion, had his emotionally enthralled and incapacitated listeners silently begging for more exquisite pain.
Under the conductor's baton, the final cadence of Fantasy would momentarily declare rest and harmonic resolution for the elegant piece to which Roberto and his violin gave supernal voice. As Roberto nimbly raced on in E-flat minor toward the closing chord progression, he up bowed strongly upon a high D-flat, plangent and suspended. What the masterful sorcerer conjured up was a heart-rending dissonance, one set against the surging F dominant seventh inflection of the complete string section. At rest, tutti, in B-flat minor.
That soaring, protracted D-flat brought the jubilant audience en masse to it feet in worshipful obeisance at the Shrine of Music.
The Shrine of Music
Robin and nine other aspiring pianists each await his turn at the concert grand. Such waiting is always an excruciatingly painful exercise, not, of course, in proper piano technique, but in controlling one's nerves. Not running to the nearest toilet and losing one's breakfast.
At Last! First audition and, afterward, a polite thank you, we (the faculty) will be in touch. Another rendition of the ubiquitous Moonlight Sonata and a comment of "well done, Miss Steiner." Nods of approval. Thank yous. Why Robin has ended up candidate number 10, the nervous young man has no idea. "Mr. Metier ... if you please...."
Robin reverently approaches the Bosendorfer Imperial Grand, sits upon the cushioned bench and adjusts the knobs. Just the correct height. Right foot placed firmly upon the damper pedal, left poised upon the sostenuto. Hands in readiness, set to descend upon the usual 88 as well as those 9 extra coils of thunder in the bass that Robin shall certainly hammer upon for Olivier's Essay in F-sharp Minor. Upon completing the fire and brimstone of the opening section, the daring but now quieter and contemplative musician begins to ply his way through the transparent, sparkling waters of the essay as shore appears on the musical horizon.
As Robin's hands lift from the final chord cluster and his foot from the damper pedal, the rounded sonorities continue to resonate darkly eerie through the hall. Then silence. If there had been meant a pin to drop at this moment, well.... The young man, trembling with expectation over any scrap of approval or disapproval, waits a few moments more ... silence.