Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Symphony

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending my ex-husband’s first symphony, promptly titled Symphony No. 1. I also had the privilege of watching our son fulfill a vital role in the day’s events. My son is an avid filmmaker. He eats, sleeps and drinks all things cinematic. Name pretty much any film and he can tell you who directed it, who the cinematographer was, why they chose certain shots, lighting or scenery; as well as who the actors were, and what awards the film won. I’ve watched my son progress from filming amateur movies in our backyard to developing his craft to a level where his works are now being accepted at film festivals across the country. I’ve often said that Stephen didn’t choose filmmaking but rather, filmmaking chose him. Stephen will humbly tell you that he simply loves the art of telling stories to the world.

As I sat in the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, CA I was filled with a myriad of emotions. Stephen’s father, Peter, asked him to film the performance. Peter poured over a year of his life into writing this symphony. He was also given the privilege of being asked to conduct it. Anyone in the musical world will know that for a resident conductor to surrender their podium and orchestra to a guest conductor is quite an honor. Peter knew all too well how momentous this occasion would be and wanted to capture every moment of it. For that, he not only turned to his son to do so, but had tremendous faith in his talents that he would deliver and not disappoint.

Stephen, on the other hand, knew all too well how painstakingly hard his father worked on each and every note. He watched his dad labor through bone crushing exhaustion, personal crisis, fevers and other illnesses, as well as having to meet his many day to day obligations. Yet, he persevered, keeping his eye on the finish line and delivered a masterpiece! In doing so, Peter provided to his son an unquestionable example of fortitude and resolve. For that, Stephen wanted nothing more than to make his father proud by ensuring a quality video product.

Stephen spent hours in his dad’s rehearsals taking notes on where and how to shoot the performance, all the while, being inconspicuous to the orchestra and audience. This was no small feat. He was holed up in a small alcove on the side of the auditorium, about 20 feet above the orchestra. He was dressed all in black, or as he would say, like a Ninja, and took his proper place at the camera. When Peter stepped out to center stage and onto the conductor’s podium, his son was standing close by ready to capture every moment. It was then that I was struck with such pride in watching father and son collectively bring their talents to the forefront.

The father, son dance is a delicate one. A good father strives to impart love, acceptance, principles, values and an honorable legacy to their offspring. The son on the other hand looks to make his father proud and wants nothing more than to know he will be there for him, no matter what. In a world where so many father, son relationships are fractured, broken or non-existent, I’ve come to count my blessings for the relationship my son has with his father. Despite his dad and I having been divorced for almost ten years, we are one of the fortunate in that we’ve maintained a harmonious relationship. This has been primarily due to having shared custody of our son and, because we wanted to maintain a pleasant equilibrium for all three of us to exist in. We’ve not been perfect and we’ve certainly had our moments, but we always know how to bring it back into focus. It takes a lot of maturity and letting go of silly issues to achieve this, but the rewards are so worth the efforts.

By the time Stephen was five, he had memorized every note of his father’s music. So much so that if he heard even a whiff of a melody that sounded like something his father wrote in another composers piece, he would immediately inform his dad that he needed to get his attorney because that composer had “copyright infringed” his works. Clearly they hadn’t done so, but it was sweet that he had his father’s back nonetheless. Stephen would sit through concert after concert hearing his dad’s compositions played by some of the best orchestras around. He would watch his father stand before crowds of thousands to take his well earned bow. Everything came full circle yesterday as I watched Peter now take pride in Stephen’s filming talents and as he entrusted him with this monumental occasion.

As I sat there yesterday, hearing each note beautiful come to life and my son capturing every frame of the experience I was not only filled with pride but also fulfillment. Watching my son and his dad collaborate their mutual talents, culminating in a perfect performance by both is more than any mother could hope for. Peter was highly thankful and dutiful in acknowledging his son’s filming efforts and Stephen was bursting with pride at his father’s symphonic premiere.

The word symphony is derived from the Greek word (symphonia), meaning "agreement or concord of sound", "concert of vocal or instrumental music", "harmonious”. How ironic to see Peter’s first symphonic work as the genesis to both working together. I’m sure this is the first of many father and son partnerships. I look forward to future endeavors whether it’s in the concert hall or collaborating together on a film. Either way, the bond, friendship and mutual collegial respect shared by both is heartwarming. To that I give a heartfelt standing ovation. Bravo to you both for a job well done!