Balbir Matbur: Part of the Symphony
“ I plant trees, but I am not the doer of this work. I am the facilitator, the instrument—I am one part of the symphony. I know there is an overall scheme to this symphony that I cannot understand. In some way, we are each playing our own part. It is not for me to judge or criticize the life or work of another. All I know is that this is my dance. I would plant trees today even if I knew for certain that the world would end tomorrow.” Balbir Matbur, Heron Dance interview (Issue 11) from Inward Outward, Daily Words, October 19, 2016, inwardoutward.org
Our tickets at the Arkansas Symphony are on the third row. At times we do indeed feel as if we are part of the orchestra. We have gotten to know who sits where, when someone new is there, or when someone is missing. We know a few by name. There are still many members of the orchestra who were there when we first came to Little Rock over forty years ago.
I especially remember one moment many years ago when the first cellist had a twenty second solo very close to the end of the performance. Suddenly his deep melodious sound was heard about the rest of the orchestra and then just as suddenly he faded back into the background to support the other instruments. I knew that if I had been him, I would have been too nervous the whole night waiting for that brief time with the soloist voice soaring above the rest of the orchestra. The professional cellist of course seemed as comfortable blended in the symphony as he was with his solo. He also stayed continually with direct eye contact with the conductor as he played his brief solo part. I later wondered about the many hours he must have practiced this short solo until it was almost part of his being.
The cellist taught me that most of our life is spent being a member of the orchestra with our unique instrument, our talents, blending and giving depth to the composition assigned to us. There will be times when we are called to speak out above the music of the symphony. Before we do this, however, we should be prepared by practicing, knowing intimately our part, especially the timing, and keeping our eye on the conductor. Most of the time, we are called to spend our gifts blending, supporting, and in many ways encouraging the sounds of others.