Critical Thinking

The mere presence. I was not an exception.

 

The very moment she briskly stepped onto the stage, her cerulean crystal-studded concert gown flowing to the floor, the hoarse whispers of the audience were abruptly silenced by her mere presence. I was not an exception. I leant forwards eagerly with my back straighter than an iron rod, my body rigid and tense from all the pent-up energy yearning to hear the performance in the past month. My arm grasped the handrail of the glass balcony so tightly that blotchy spots of plum and red were appearing on my fingers, whereas the skin stretched over my knuckles had turned an ashen, ghostly pale. Sitting down on the leather stool, she traced her finger over a single milky key and gently pressed down on it, releasing a plain, one-dimensional note. And from there, the symphony started.

Her hands soared across the keyboard, teasing out every single fragile melody the composer could only dream for the audience to hear, whilst her agile, lithe fingers flawlessly delivered the notes faster than lightning – at times transforming into a blur, sweeping over the striped ivory keys of the Steinway grand piano.  I listened as her blazing passion for music shone through the way her head swayed to and fro in time with the music. Various mellifluous tunes flowed threaded themselves through the air, washing away any ounce of discomfort I felt. The joyous melody then turned to violent, fierce clashes in notes; the lively rhythm into heavy, sombre whips; the soft dynamics into a deafening, ear-ringing cacophony. If the dissonant bangs coming from within the orchestra were able to metamorphose themselves into tumultuous sea storms, I was quite sure that the entire chamber would’ve been drowned within seconds.  

And finally, throwing her head back, she belted out the final chord of the evening with a final grandiose sweep of her hand. Swiftly, she rose from her stool and faced the crowd. Everyone seemed to stare, eyes glued to the single ebony piano in the middle of the stage, serene and lifeless as it could ever be half an hour before. Everyone was wondering why the concert had to end to soon, wondering if there was any way that

The crowd exploded.

             I remember applauding, cheering, clapping until my hands felt raw and my wrist sore as all the other two-thousand people did as I did.  My hands felt as if they’d been roughly pushed against the back of a wild porcupine, but it didn’t matter. This was worth it. I remember the young infant in the seat beside me staring at me as if I were completely demented. Going to as the widest beam ever in my life lit up my face, my cheeks burning viciously from the grin stretching from the tip of my left ear to the other.

I’d seen clips of Yuja Wang playing all over the internet, but hearing her concert up close in person instead of through the blurred-out fuzz which came out of the conventional laptop was enthralling. Her music was a symphony of flamboyance and poignancy, at all times projecting her music into the farthest corners of the hall where I sat, with the effortless simplicity one could only wish for. She enthralled the audience with rapid shifts in dynamics. At times, her technique was so fluent and fluid as to defy belief, gentle passages so exquisite it commanded everyone to instinctively edge forward in their seat to capture more of the piece. For a pianist with such delicate frame and lean arms, the power she extruded from the piano was one a stranger might’ve expected from a player twice her size. No, music wasn’t simply flowing from her; it was in swirling around her like an aura, absorbed in her very being. Saying her talent was phenomenal would be an immense understatement.

            Before entering this concert, I’d never experienced such conflicting range of emotions before. Walking into a room crammed with people more than twice my age, I was able to recall my hands shaking wildly from the fear of entering such a venue whereas to others, I might seem like a person only there because my ticket was taken for granted and not because of my genuine excitement.