Most Exciting Six Minutes of My Life

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On January 25, 2005, Kristin Chenoweth performed with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The most exciting six minutes of my life occurred during the second half of that concert when I accompanied her in a performance of "Till There Was You." We performed it as a duet, just voice and classical guitar.

Maestro Kunzel announced her, she walked to center stage, and I followed behind her. I sat, looked to her, waited for her nod, then began the introduction to the tune. My nerves stopped the instant I started playing. As she sang, I felt emotions well up in me that I had never experienced before.

Feeling her pace the music, feeling her lead me, feeling her sense of time as she gently tugged the tempo here and there, slower and faster, gentler and stronger as the song progressed taught me lessons in music that can only be learned from playing with a grandmaster performer.

The song was over in less than two minutes. As soon as it finished Maestro Kunzel began the introduction to the next piece and I remained center stage in my seat while the Cincinnati Pops accompanied her.

She glows when she performs, as if her entire being radiates a golden energy that embraces and caresses the audience. From just inches away, the energy dazzled. I was nearly trembling with excitement by the end of the piece.

And then the audience began applauding, she bowed, and I followed her off-stage. It was over six minutes after it began. I was standing backstage with such a dumbfounded look on my face that the orchestra manager came up to me with a worried look on his face and said "Timmy, are you ok? Can you continue on with the concert?"

"Yeah" was all I could manage to say. And then a smile emerged. Wow. I relaxed and prepared to go back on stage for the next piece.

After the concert, as I was leaving Carnegie Hall through the stage door, I waded through a mob of fans who were waiting for Kristin. I heard "It's the guitar player!" "He's the guitar player!" "The guitarist!" People were crowding around me asking questions so fast I couldn't understand. One fellow followed me down the street asking questions. This is not typical treatment for an orchestral guitarist.

I hope to have the opportunity to perform with Ms. Chenoweth again someday.

To purchase a score and full set of parts for George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, visit Berens Pops Library.


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