Every Friday night during the past five school years I have driven our son Gabriel to Princeton, New Jersey -- sharing more than an hour through rush hour traffic so he could attend his chamber-music orchestra rehearsals. Recently, with his learners' permit, he's been driving me. For two of those years I have spent the two hours of Friday night rehearsals with one of my dearest friends, whose daughter is also in the orchestra. Jane, who is raising four daughters about an hour from us, and I have gone on long walks or headed to the local Panera to "solve world problems" as we like to put it.
And twice a year for five years, Gabriel and I have faced that same a crush of cars on US One to get him and his upright bass to his concerts at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton. As a family, we have split the journey to and from the concerts because there is no room in the van for the four of us plus his massive instrument. So my husband and younger son have taken the train from New Brunswick to Trenton and I have picked them up after dropping Gabriel off and then squished them all in the van to drop the two of them off again at the train station after the concert.
And as of now, each of those realities is no more: Gabriel performed in his last concert for Stretto youth Chamber Orchestra. As a graduating senior, he conducted a musical piece, as did his cellist friend Joshua: Excerpts from Gluck's Orfeo and Euridice.
In years past, I have to admit, there were times when the concert, after a long day of work and the traffic on US One, seemed too long, Tonight it whizzed by. There were tears in my eyes much of the concert. To see our son, now a young man conducting a music piece. He was 11 when he started playing with Stretto. To sit in a pew with my elderly parents, who managed to drive down from New York state, along with two of my nieces, for their grandson's final concert.
Oh how can it be we have reached the end to these enchanting evenings?
I leave you with a musical piece, one which our son played with four other teenaged musicians and no conductor. I don't yet have the video of them playing, but listen and imagine the beauty of watching soon-to-be adults transcending the moment to play an ancient bit of Beauty.