The Ensemble | Goop

Yes The Ensemble

It’s a love story, the famous violinist had said, and even though Jana knew she wasn’t, those were the words that flashed through her brain as she began to play on stage. The famous violinist, Fodorio, had trained the quartet earlier in the week, and that was what he had said after finishing a race of the “American” Dvořák, which, according to Jana, was certainly not a love story. But here they were, the Van Ness String Quartet, performing in their final graduation recital at the conservatory, beginning the shiny notes of the first movement, and all she could think, as much as she thought she was in. everything, it was: maybe it was a love story.

It was a love letter to the country, as she understood it from her classes. Dvořák’s European countryman picks up American folk songs. But how could anyone think that was a romantic love story? Jana seemed to be more classic than that: a person falls in love with the dream of a place, of a life that could be lived here, of something that they were not but could be. It was about the light itself, that almost visible garment hovering just above the warm floor of your life. Potential, aspiration, realization. The famous violinist who had trained them – Phodorius, could not bear to say his name – was a pirate, however, at least when it came to teaching. Jana would never have said it in her face, but she enjoyed the solemn inner pleasure of her contempt. What did he know? Here’s what she knew: that the “American” Dvořák was on America’s simple occasion, and that no one was better known for identifying and consuming opportunities than she was. By the time Henry’s solo viola entered three bars later, he had decided again: no, it wasn’t a love story.

It’s a love story it wasn’t something Henry remembered from the coaching session, and certainly not what came to his mind when he introduced the American bitter melody to the third bar. Instead, what had flashed inside Henry was what Fodorio had said when he handed Henry his card while he did his viola. Call me if you decide this quartet business is not for you, he had said. I can set up a few recitals in front of people right in New York. You will have a great solitary career. Henry had taken the paper without words, had it slipped into the velvet pocket inside his box, and had not moved it since. But the paper showed up anyway. If you decide this quartet business is not for you– as Fodorio had already decided that it was not for Enrico, and he was just waiting for Enrico to reach the same conclusion. But Henry had decided nothing. He never did, young as he was and blessed with the kind of talent that guided his life decisions for him.

Whether or not it was a love story did not worry Daniel, who in those days had no place in his life for romance or lasting love, or any symptoms or side effects of the two. Not when he had to practice twice as hard to keep up with the rest of the quartet and their maddeningly natural abilities, and especially Henry, whose obscene talent lurked on the edge of the prodigy, who could play drunk, blind, in love or out of it. There was no room for love in Daniel’s life when he had to work real chores in addition to his schooling, moonlighting at a bar in the Castro, attending wedding concerts when he could, and teaching him to start cello lessons. to wealthy children in Pacific Heights. It’s a love story: Sure, okay, but what else?

Of course it’s a love story, Brit thought, even though she thought it was all. This note here, and this one, this counter melody joy, its second violin harmony, the immaterial collective, the sound chord. Her relationship with Daniel, which she preferred to leave just a few days ago. Even the absence of love was a love story for her. Even this pain, this suffering. It was useful. Even if she had imagined one day that she no longer needed to know this, or fantasized about reconnecting with her life and starting over, then she was a person who would not know it, or entertained the idea of ​​a parallel Briton. , who lived in a world where there was no need to have a sense of a man walking on the edge of love, of people leaving and leaving, of a life stacked with everyone these little legacies, but she felt sad for this parallel Brit, a more vivid sadness than she felt for herself now. They were all love stories.

And even if no one would have explicitly admitted it, what it was all about – love or something else – was entirely up to Jana: it depends on how she takes a calm, sharp, precisely timed breath in an upbeat before the first. note, on the pressure of her attack on that first note, on the space she left between the first and second notes, on the degree and length and resonance of the vibrato she has applied to the neck of the violin. He touched on his minute movements, certainly at the beginning of the piece, if not later. Even the way she closed her eyes, whether she closed them at all, whether there was a swell in her eyelashes or a stern set of her forehead, all of this determined everything that was to follow. Jana’s job as a former violinist was to lead, but these days her leadership had expanded beyond the physical. His bodily and tonal decisions, one after the other through an entire forty-minute program, now serve as emotional leadership.

The power in this was both benevolent and evil, and, for Jana, it felt perfectly natural. I always wanted to really lead a group – and better yet, lead a group to size. It had to happen, it would happen, its future would define it. And where, in this narrative of greatness, was there room for a love story? It wasn’t a story she had ever been told.

Yes The Ensemble by Aja Gabel, published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Aja Gabel.

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