I will never forget the first time I ever walked into music hall, or the first time I walked out on-stage. Part of this is because it happened in my not so distant memory, but it is a pretty big deal. I recently did some research for the program writer looking at programs from the 1909 – 1910 season. This happens to be Leopold Stokowski’s first season as music director of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, when he was quite young and unfamiliar. The note in the front of the book described the reasons he was selected – to anyone remotely aware of American orchestral conducting, he has become a legend, and especially growing up hearing the Philadelphia Orchestra, it is almost laughable that it needed to be explained why he was selected. Incidentally, the performance in question was about Rachmaninoff conducting his own Piano Concerto Nr. 2, I honestly can’t imagine how great that concert was.

I digress.

In some last minute preparations after the Friday morning concert I walked out on stage and realized that this stage is no longer a huge vast scary thing. Actually, completely empty, it’s probably one of the most peaceful places I know. The one thing that hasn’t changed however is what the loudest sound is. I’ve heard quite a lot – some huge brass chorales, adding church bells to any Russian composition – but no matter how loud the cheering, how many people or instruments are on-stage, there is nothing louder than my heels walking across the stage.  I can never get over how loud they are when crossing an empty stage and an empty hall – but the sound is absolutely deafening with a packed house, and no music.  Every time I happen to be out there, I want to look around to see if people are covering their ears over the noise, and wonder if someone put taps on my shoes when I wasn’t looking.  Seriously, listen for it next time – it is so much louder than any old cowbell.

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