During a studio class a couple weeks after tearing my ACL (spring freshman year), my viola teacher pulled me outside to talk. He understood what tennis meant to me, but he told me that viola could fill that void. He told me that with the viola, I could affect people who heard me play. At the time I nodded my head, but in all honesty my relationship with the viola wasn’t that great so I didn’t believe him. At that point, I didn’t practice, I didn’t care, and I didn’t know why I still played. It took me more than a year to figure out why I played. During the winter semester one year ago, the orchestra I’m in played Shostakovich’s eighth quartet arranged for a string ensemble. When I first got the music at a sectional I said something to the effect of “the music is impossible.” The music was hard, but I started to listen to it (at a time when I never listened to classical music) and slowly I started to practice it more. It got to the point where I was practicing every day for forty-five minutes to an hour, and listening to it everyday. This was the first time classical music appealed to me, but it was also the first time I had played or heard Shostakovich. I started to get into classical music and explored composers such as Bartók, Tchaikovsky, and Barber, but none of them compared to Shostakovich. Shostakovich was what I listened to when I was stressed, angry, or excited. His music had the ability to calm all of my emotions and for me, was incredibly powerful. The music of Shostakovich lit a fire in me that has been burning ever since, a fire that motivates me to practice and one that holds my love for classical music.
A couple months ago my sister and I went to the Symphony where they played Shostakovich’s eighth quartet. We sat behind the cellos and the basses while their accented notes on the low strings reverberated in my bones and gave me the chills. At the end of the fifth movement I looked over to my sister and she was in tears. I realized then why I played the viola; my viola teacher was right, the music could affect people. The effect was apparent throughout the audience as they gave the CSO a standing ovation. The music of Shostakovich helped me realize what playing the viola truly meant, it showed me that I, a high school student, could affect the people around me in a positive way, and that is why I believe in Dmitri Shoshtakovich.
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