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The Virtuoso

photo credit: alexanderward12 CC license 2.0

The young virtuoso began with Chopin’s first etude as the audience sat in reverence. A ceremony had been initiated, and the pianist communicated sublime genius with appregiated chords. Tens of thousands of hours of practice and tens of thousands of dollars in lessons had yielded flawless technique. It was now demonstrated at the budding vituoso’s debut concert.

The marquee outside the theatre advertised Chopin’s Opus 25, twelve etudes performed by Andrew Michaels. The event was well attended, and among those in the crowd were Andrew’s friends and family, his peers and mentors, aficionados of every sort, and of course music critics. The young pianist embraced the enormous pressure with supernatural calm, and a mystical transcendence was achieved as he performed. Every technical complexity of each etude was demonstrated with ease.  The pianist fearlessly attacked chromatics and parallel octaves while dynamic staccato notes enraptured the audience.The critics wrote, “The evening was magically enchanted.”  

The slow movement, the 7th etude, was performed with absolute delicacy. The pianist’s touch was inspiring, and each key stroke produced perfect clarity of tone. Those in attendance testified to the prophetic gifts of the young virtuoso. The nuances of the music were interpreted with great imagination, and the crowd was on the edge of their seats. One of the critics in attendance had already written a raving review and left early. A respected career certainly was in the future of the young pianist, but then the virtuoso reached the eleventh etude. Maybe the most difficult, the 11th etude had monstrous right hand passages and marching left hand stride counterpoint.  Every ounce of the pianist’s spirit would be challenged, for the 11th etude required more than finger dexterity.

Andrew looked deep into his soul, and tackled the modulations of the 11th etude with unwavering ambition. In the critical moment, he teetered on brilliance, but doubt crept into his conscious. A wrong note, the rhythm was off, his left hand stumbled, then the unthinkable, the blossoming virtuoso stopped and for an instant there was complete silence. Andrew’s hands where frozen, his body was paralyzed, and a low murmur came from the audience. Then laughter erupted and some of those in attendance rose from there seats and headed towards the door. The lights came on in the concert hall, and the mood became sterile. This is a bad dream, Andrew thought to himself. He held his hands before his face. They had failed him. Then he looked into the dispersing crowd and saw his humiliated mother starring back at him. This was not a dream. Crushed, Andrew violently threw himself from the piano bench. Then he rushed backstage, exited through the service door, and disappeared into the cruel night.

* * *

Five years later an article was written in the arts and culture section of the L.A. Times.

Music

Extradionary pianist tonight-the mood of the Malibu Restaurant was that of a Parisian Cafe. The little known jazz artist, Andrew Michaels, consumed those gathered with lucid improvisations. The pianist was reminiscent of the great Bill Evans. Every idea was expressed with absolute emotional connection and the control of a virtuoso. We hope to see much more of you in L.A. Andrew!

Written by: Brett Wiley

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