Listening to a Symphony


In the midst of classes filled with the usual mundane lessons, there’s little to look forward to during the day. But with a single mention of a field trip, students suddenly become attentive and interested. Field trips indicate temporary escapes from the confines of the classroom. With this chance, students suddenly become restless with anticipation.

During high school there was always a free annual trip to listen to the Philadelphia Orchestra’s rehearsal. To those who are not familiar with the orchestral scene, listening to classical music seems unappealing. But those who recognize the prestige of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which is known as one the “Big Five” American orchestras, know that it’s worth watching. Watching a nationally recognized orchestra for free is a rare opportunity.

When I arrived at the performance hall I picked a seat right in the center of all the orchestral action. The intensity and skill of the performers were shown as they practiced difficult and fast excerpts, in preparation for the upcoming rehearsal. Once the conductor arrived on stage, the orchestra suddenly became silent with focus. With a flick of his baton, the conductor breaks the silence and sets the orchestra into motion. The amazing unison of over a hundred people never fails to fascinate me. Despite the unique qualities of each player, no one stands out, and everyone plays in harmony. The action never stops, with the contrast between slow melodious sections followed fast-paced pieces filled with intense movements. As I watched I entered a trace, where the only thing on my mind was the symphony’s performance.

Once the orchestra finished their first movement I glanced at the people surrounding me. I either saw them falling asleep or checking their phones constantly. It was clear that they were uninterested with the musicians in front of them, which put all their efforts into performing a complex musical composition. Despite all the action occurring right in front of their eyes, they became bored of the rehearsal, just like they would in a typical classroom.

Listening to symphonies was once the greatest form of entertainment. But now with the development of new music and technology, classical performances are considered boring. As the conductor moves his arms to the rhythm, he changes the speed, volume, and pace. The only moment to rest in silence is when the piece is finished. The constant movements in music can stir the emotions of the audience as they listen to the endless melodies. Yet, even with all of these actions many would rather spend their time doing other activities rather than listening to a symphony.

With the difficulty in rhythms and melodies, an orchestral performance can be captivating or boring to some. These two perspectives exist because boredom towards one aspect is not the same for everyone. Those who are unfamiliar with classical music may consider it a waste of time.  A whole symphony can last for over forty minutes, which is valuable time that could be spent to enjoying something else. In contrast, the people who care for classical music understand that dull moments barely exist in a symphony. The focus and ease of the musicians are met with great admiration from the audience.  In their seats the melodies create stories and images in their head. But for others these songs have no significant meaning at all. Thus, what is considered boring depends on each person’s unique perspective. Everyone cares about something different, so often times the same object can either be considered interesting or boring.


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