MUSICAL MUSINGS: What it’s like being part of the largest California symphony ever

It’s loud, and my shoulder is sore from sitting sideways with my torso twisted and my head bowed. The smell of body odor and my creeping claustrophobia are starting to get to me.

Yet I’m still thrilled to be sitting in the advanced violin section of the Symphony of 1,000.

Well, maybe thrilled is a bit of an exaggeration. I mean, I was given no choice in my participation. As a member of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, my spot was reserved from day one.

But even four hours of rehearsing and performing with 999 other musicians trumps AP Biology homework or college essays.

This event, which took place last Sunday, boasted the largest symphony ever to be assembled in California. (And, yes, there were really 1,000 of us.)

When I first heard that I would be involved in this symphony, I was unenthusiastic to say the least. Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of brass players, each dissonantly blowing as hard as they could, and you’ll come close to my vision.

But I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed my time there. To look around and see just how many people love their instruments enough to come in for five hours on a Sunday to play is awe-inspiring.

There were little ones so small that I could see only their high ponytails over the stand; and old women who had difficulty walking to their seats but who could play with the gusto of a prodigy; and parents who sat in the beginner section so they could experience it with their children; and a 10-year-old blind boy who memorized two of the pieces so he could participate.

The camaraderie that music forms among strangers was visible. Stand partners who’d never met before were suddenly carrying on conversations about when they started playing their instruments.

So what began as a tedious obligation turned into an inspirational diversion from the stresses of senior year.

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