Thursday, October 25, 2012

BSO Fellow - Tami Lee Hughes

It was a beautiful sunny morning in Baton Rouge.  

After a quick breakfast, I grabbed the few remaining items in my room and put them on the back seat of my car- my laptop, a few toiletries, and, of course, my violin.  When I finished loading, I shared hugs and “goodbyes” with my family before getting in the car and turning the key in the ignition.   I took a deep breath and said a prayer as I pulled out of the driveway.  This was a big day for me.  I was beginning a twenty-hour drive across the country to embark on the opportunity of a lifetime: to play with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as its first Fellow.
Tami Lee Hughes - BSO Orchestra Fellow
Tami Lee Hughes - BSO Fellow
A little over one month later, I took a deep breath as I pulled out of my driveway in Owings Mills.  I was heading to my first rehearsal with the Baltimore Symphony. 

A million thoughts raced through my mind.  

Would I remember everything I practiced?  Would I be able to follow the conductor?  Would my sound blend with the orchestra?  When I walked onto the Meyerhoff stage thirty minutes later, I was overcome with emotion.  The hall is even more breathtaking from the stage than it is from the audience . . . the tiers of balcony cascading from the ceiling, the plush red velvet seats, and the beautiful wooden paneling onstage.  I paused for a moment to enjoy everything my eyes could see.

After tuning, we began rehearsing “The Golden Age of Black and White,” a program that featured classic tunes from the 1940’s and 1950’s with BSO SuperPops Conductor Jack Everly and vocalists Karen Murphy, Kristen Scott, and Chapter Six.  When Maestro Everly began the rehearsal, I knew I would love performing this concert.  His baton seemingly became a magic wand, transporting all of us to an age of black and white television, girl singers, doo-wop groups, swing and jazz tunes, and even early rock and roll.  I was captured by the music- the nostalgia, passion, energy, and warmth infused in rich luxurious melodies.  It reminded me of the music my grandmother played on the radio when I was young. 

On the night of our debut performance, I arrived at the hall a few hours early.  There was a buzz backstage as orchestra musicians, singers, stage technicians, and other staff members prepared for the performance.  Although I didn’t feel nervous, I was very excited.  I felt a swift rush of energy as Maestro Everly gave the opening downbeat.  With the audience lights dimmed, the stage came to life.  Lights, costumes, singers, and instrumentalists filled the stage with Maestro Everly  at the center of it all waving his magic wand.  By the time we played my favorite tune of the night, Mambo Italiano, we were in full swing!  The energy was so contagious I wanted to get out of my seat and dance.  For a brief moment I imagined I was in a fiery red dress doing the mambo in the streets of Sorrento.  A quick glance at the audience assured me that I was not the only one dreaming of dancing in Italy!

During my drive home after the concert, I reflected on the evening.  I thought about the sheer wonderment and joy of experiencing live music with everyone- musicians and audience members alike- and of indulging in an era in which I didn’t live but one that held special memories for so many concert goers.  I also thought about how much my life had changed so much since I’d left Baton Rouge. . . there are new faces, new places and new friends.  I sang bits and pieces of the music we’d performed as I got out of the car and opened the door to my home.   

So far, I’m having the time of my life and I love every minute of being part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra!

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