Volume 3 / Chapter 115
Jun Hyuk was explaining tonight’s performance to the members of the CH orchestra.
“Since you’ve already had plenty of practice, just keep one thing in mind. Today’s performance is completely controlling the pianist. Think of it as a rodeo. If you can’t get it under control by the 22nd minute of the 3rd part, you’re falling off the horse. Our crushing defeat. Obviously a crushing defeat for the pianist, and a failure for the performance.”
The orchestra members could not believe that Jun Hyuk was comparing their performance to a rodeo before they had even started practicing. Was it any different than saying that they are improvising the performance?
“If you can, look at me instead of the sheet music. It’ll be a fun performance where unexpected situations might occur.”
“Look here. This isn’t jazz. What do you mean unexpected situations?”
One of the orchestra members bolted up and shouted out. The limit for improv performances is normally 7 people. The performers need to sign to each other to start and end their ad libs and pass on the baton. Having members beyond this number makes it harder to send signals to each other, and it is virtually impossible in large numbers like an orchestra.
“Ah, you don’t need to worry about that. I can handle those unexpected situations plenty.”
After appeasing the concertmaster, he looked at the orchestra members again.
“There could be small changes from time to time during the performance. Don’t be surprised and just follow my directing. We’ll be following the score like a classical.”
Lastly, Jun Hyuk said what he was expecting for the end results.
“And… there’s a big chance the performance will be a failure. Even if it isn’t successful, that’s totally my fault and I would like to tell you once again that it has nothing to do with you all. Then shall we start? You can’t take your eyes off of me.”
Jun Hyuk looked each member in the eye and held the baton high.
There was not an empty seat in the theater to see the freshman that the maestro had pinpointed himself as the conductor.
The professors were of course there, but even the dean was sitting there with interest. They were not wearing dresses or suits, but casual clothing like jeans.
When the lights turned off in the audience, Jun Hyuk and Amelia walked out onto the stage together.
Jun Hyuk saw Amelia nervous and whispered,
“Play however you feel. However you want to. It’s okay.”
With the orchestra’s melody, the performance started.
When the 1st part ended, the 2nd part started within moments. The observing professors’ expressions subtly changed.
It was fast.
It was incomparably fast to Bruno Kazel’s performance.
The orchestra members and Amelia could not hide their embarrassment. However, Jun Hyuk’s baton led them without hesitation.
As the ringing of the piano strings grew louder with small differences in the nuances, jun Hyuk looked at the cellist and thrust the baton. The cellist relayed the strength he felt in Jun Hyuk’s baton with his hand holding the bow. A thick and strong cello sound came out and the piano became calm again. The strings and winds were taking turns catching the piano that kept trying to fling out and by the time they reached the 3rd part, the piano was very stable.
The 4th part started with a deafening piano where the orchestra and piano released all of their power.
The professors whispered to each other as they spoke.
“This… It’s completely different than yesterday.”
“Isn’t the piano a little unstable? She’s showing an entirely different touch than she did yesterday.”
“Yes. But the 4th part today… I’m sorry to the maestro to say this but there’s a much more abundant sound.”
“It’s a little unstable, but it’s hard to see a performance with such dynamics. It seems Jun exerts that appreciation on a live stage.”
If this had been a concert where tickets were necessary instead of a student recital, it was a performance that would have ended with formal applause. The feelings of the unstable pianist and orchestra were properly delivered as they had watched. But this is a school. It is a place where they could be satisfied with even a moment of music that made their hearts beat.
When the performance ended, there was cheering and clapping like that of the day before. The difference from last night was that this enthusiastic response was directed at the pianist.
It is because the vehemence of the 4th part had shaken up the students as they forgot the instability of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd parts.
There was no after party as there was the day before. The people involved in the performance including the orchestra members were talking about the performance in the hall outside of the theater.
All of the orchestra members had flushed faces because they rarely had such tight performances. It was as Jun Hyuk had said. It was not perfect, but it had been a fun performance where they were in a gallop without knowing when they might fall off the horse.
“Isn’t this a very different performance from what is indicated on the score?”
“My thoughts are different. That much can be explained by the contrast in the conductors. The difference just feels greater because Maestro Kazel performed it last night.”
While the professors were exchanging evaluations, Bruno Kazel butt in,
“Isn’t there something that’s undeniable?”
Kazel was smiling brightly.
“It is a performance that undoubtedly revealed Jun’s genius. Isn’t it so?”
All of the professors could only look at Kazel’s mouth. The talent he had shown on a live stage was outstanding, but it was an exaggeration to say that he showed his genius. The stability of yesterday’s performance. He had not been able to maintain the peaceful melody of the piano or orchestra through the 3rd part. What had Kazel seen in Jun Hyuk as a fellow conductor?
“Did you see the conductor’s fingertips? Didn’t it look like he was commanding the performance with a clear understanding of how the 30 minute song would unfold? When any of the members seemed to be on the verge of panic, he already had the baton directed toward them.”
Listening to the maestro’s evaluation, they remembered something they had forgotten. The show completed with an unstable performance until the end. It was visible that the orchestra and pianist were surprised, but the conductor’s back had not shaken once.
“I see. Only the conductor was stable.”
‘In my opinion, Jun is already a complete musician.’
Bruno Kazel could not get himself to say this aloud.
When Jun Hyuk and Amelia appeared, Bruno Kazel exaggerated on compliments again.
“Oh oh, future maestro. Jun who has reserved a lifetime conductor position on the New York Philharmonic. You were really great today. It was amazing.”
He was not drinking alcohol, but his voice was loud enough for everyone to hear. All of the students there learned of the maestro’s thoughts. Today’s performance was a time to see how great Jun Hyuk is.
“No, it was a failure anyway.”
“What? A failure?”
Bruno Kazel was still reeling from the awe he felt from the 4th part so he thought that Jun Hyuk was being overly modest, but the failure Jun Hyuk spoke of was Amelia.
Jun Hyuk shrugged and indicated Amelia.
“That’s right. A failure. A powerful feeling came out once or twice, but that was it.”
The failure was not regarding the quality of the performance. It was his thought on the goal of the piano concerto. He meant that he had not been able to raise the pianist up a level.
“Amelia, take it slowly. Pianists are always at war with themselves.”
Bruno Kazel wanted to talk more about Jun Hyuk’s conducting than Amelia’s piano.
“Jun, will you get a coffee with me? Just the two of us. Professors, I would like your permission to monopolize on today’s maestro.”
Kazel did not wait for the professors’ response and took Jun Hyuk by the hand to the cafeteria to avoid other people.
He drank a whole cup of coffee without speaking to calm his excitement, and started saying what he had on his mind,
“Jun, do you know what a real genius is?”
An unforeseen question. Jun Hyuk just blinked, but it was a rhetorical question that did not need his answer.
“Not forgetting something you learned once? Learning at an incredibly fast pace? Applying what you learned differently from how others use it? No.”
Bruno Kazel spoke faster. He was excited.
“There’s no need to learn. It just happens. You just know, you don’t forget, and you apply it naturally… It just works. It’s like a newborn calf being able to stand on four feet without its mother teaching it to do so.”
Jun Hyuk could not tell if Bruno Kazel’s words were to praise him or if he had other intentions.
“What on earth are you doing here? Is this school crazy to be hanging on to you to teach someone like you?”
He was not praising him, but honestly revealing his frustrations.
“Why are you wasting your time here?”
“I don’t think it’s a waste.”
Kazel was the same even after hearing Jun Hyuk’s response. He was sure that Jun Hyuk, like the professors, did not know his full worth. From what he had seen over the past two days, he was sure that Jun Hyuk did not need anything else if he just learned how to stand in front of an audience.
“No, it’s a waste! What can you learn from the professors at this school? Be honest. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing.”
“That’s right. There’s nothing I’ve learned. But…”
“I’m not learning, but in a state of getting to know.”
“What are you talking about? What do you mean you’re getting to know?”
“Hm… Maestro, it’s impossible for me to explain with my limited English.”
Jun Hyuk thought for a moment and opened his mouth,
“You said that I know naturally, automatically? Yes, that’s right. As you said, I don’t need to learn. I can watch someone driving a racecar and know everything about racing.”
It is easier for Jun Hyuk to make analogies than to express something exactly.
“I’m a racer who can determine a car’s performance just by listening to the sound of its engine, figure out the state of the tires just from what I feel at my fingertips, and understand the car by the vibration I feel with my body. It’s just…..”
“Just what? What are you saying is the issue?”
“I can only drive on a race track. I can navigate the track faster than anyone else can. But I can’t drive on a normal road because I don’t know the way.”
It was then that Kazel could guess what Jun Hyuk meant.
“I’m getting to know that road at this school. A shortcut from New Jersey to Brooklyn, the highway I need to take to get from New York to Philadelphia… Those are the kinds of things this school is showing me.”
Even for a pro racer, the best way to navigate an unfamiliar road is to ask someone. Jun Hyuk is asking about unfamiliar roads and learning the geography at this school.
“I can’t say that I’m learning the way. I’m just getting to know the way. And there are a lot of things that I’ve come to know over a month.”
Bruno Kazel burst out in laughter.
“Ha ha. Not even a top F1 racer can navigate the city? Because he doesn’t know the road? That’s a great comparison. Your English is good.”
Kazel nodded as he looked at Jun Hyuk who thought of Clayton-Hoffman as a navigation system.
“It’s a relief that you’re not wasting your time here.”
The mistake that talented youth commonly make in showing themselves in an unripened condition. They show this unripe state and forget it. How many of these kinds of youths had he seen?
However, this clever young kid is not in a rush. He has a clear understanding of his shortcomings and is going forward one step at a time.
“I was the only one in a rush. This is… a bit embarrassing. Ha ha.”
He laughed again and spoke to Jun Hyuk with an affectionate voice,
“Jun, if you come to know the way to Philadelphia, make sure you come find me. Then I’ll let you know how to go out to the world.”