I began attending concerts at the age of ten, and my ability to focus fluctuated over the years but remained less than ideal. After the first 20 minutes or so of a piece I would start to pay more attention to the ceiling than to the performance. I didn’t dislike the performances, but my attention span was short during concerts. I had not yet had an experience that taught me the value of focusing for an entire concert . I often felt similarly while practicing violin at that age; however, that was likely a problem with motivation. Practicing for long periods of time was difficult even if I enjoyed whatever I was working on.
In January of 2018, Gil Shaham performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the concert. Although I had heard the concerto before, I was not very familiar with it given that I wasn’t much of a fan of Tchaikovsky at the time. Nevertheless, I had high expectations for the concert because I loved watching videos of Gil Shaham’s performances.
The concert began like any other: Glazunov’s Overture Solennelle, Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise for Orchestra, and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture followed by an intermission. During the intermission, I felt like I had at every previous concert. I was in no way prepared for the experience that I would have as soon as the intermission ended.
As soon as Shaham played his first note, I could tell that this performance would be unique, and I knew that something changed within me. This feeling persisted for all three movements. I never once took my eyes off the stage. I never once stopped listening. Through the course of the performance I realized that the violin would have to make up a substantial part of my future. I didn’t know what that meant, and I still don’t to some extent, but I finally had motivation to work harder.