For Phil
The conductor raises the baton
The soprano quiets her cry
The children dip their bows apprehensively
And moisten reeds with red mouths
And their bright eyes in their innocence
Glance nervously about
As the lights come up
And the symphony begins
Some follow the score intently
While others without listening
Blow haphazardly through rests and stops
And are forced to rehearse their parts
Again and again and again

The orchestra swells in proportion
Then shrinks to trios and duets
Only to expand again
In constellations of sound
We start off carefully: adagietto
As per the prepared score
And proceed to allegretto
As our talents are honed
With instruments we have chosen
Or have been chosen for us by who knows who
We try to meet the composer's wishes
Though the programme is not clear

Now the pace proceeds to quicken
Our feet beating to the time
The delicate reeds glisten in trills to one side
While a bassoon quartet reels on dangerously into the night
And the undercurrent of basses
Portends stormy passages ahead
Before the orchestra admits
A booming marching band
And guitars and penny whistles
Electric guitars and lutes and drums

A shadow sings a lieder of loss
And a chorus becomes a war cry
But our duets whisper sweetly
Of bodies, voices and velvet strings
And the semibreves of one generation
Become the whole-notes of our own
And while the pull of major and minor
Tonic and dominant
Leads us on along our glissandos
And between our counterpoints
It is the augmented and diminished
That give our song form

And the suspensions
(Ah, the suspensions)
Those respites of peace
Bring us through our difficult parts
The tension and release
The wild dances of our earlier movements
Become a crippled fugue
As the music starts to slow
The players reach andante
Slowing to adagio
But the theme is still a mystery
To the finale of the piece
So we play diminuendo
And play our solo to the silence


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