OPENING NIGHT

A deep breath. I hear the chatter from the audience settle as the auditorium lights dim.

The expectant silence.

I grip the neck of my cello tightly and close my eyes. Visualise. Breathe.

I see the endless hours of practice. Fingers bleeding. The encouraging smile of my father and mother. The exasperated berating of my teacher. A childhood sacrificed. I hear the melodies as they should be played. All leading to this night – the Musikverein. Vienna.

Exhale.

I walk out onto the stage. The audience applaud as I take my seat. Shut out the bright lights bearing down. Breathe slowly.

And play.


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© Bjorn Rudberg

Written as part of the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (more details HERE). The idea is to write a short story of 100 words based on the photo prompt (above).

To read more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

92 responses to “OPENING NIGHT”

  1. I was there with him/her. I did wonder though, wouldn’t there have been emotion too? Fear? Elation?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite probably, but not in 100 words! – I leave the resr to the reader’s imagination. Thanks Neil.

      Like

      1. For me you showed the player’s emotion in their actions i.e. gripping the neck of the cello, all the breaths. Says to me tension, nerves, anxiety.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. That’s what I had hoped to convey, thanks Paul.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Iain,

    In a hundred words you captured a lifetime of work and a raft of emotion.
    Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Rochelle, a lovely photo this week. Look forward to reading all the different takes 🙂

      Like

      1. Agreed this was a lifetime written in a 100 words and it was done so well

        Liked by 2 people

  3. We forget all the hard work needed to play at such events, you illustrated that work so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michael, very few people have the dedication it takes.

      Like

  4. A beautiful insight into the years of work and sacrifice preceding this moment. It’s never occurred to me that a cellist’s fingers would bleed, but once mentioned, it’s obvious that they would! I’m not a musician! Lol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Clare – I wish I had had the dedication required to be a good musician! 🙂

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      1. Does that mean you don’t play or you’re not a professional musician?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can read music slowly and play piano badly 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

      2. haha – that reminds me of the iconic Eric Morecombe sketch with Previn ‘I can play all the right notes; just not necessarily in the right order’

        Great piece and I agree I think you’ve relayed a lot of emotion and the physicality of nervous anticipation. Good job!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Poppy – classic comedy sketch!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I could feel the tension building. Very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I felt it__ the pain, the years sacrificed, the anxiety and the anticipation. You nailed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, much appreciated.

      Like

  7. You captured this beautifully Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What I imagine an opening night must feel like — you have set the stage — excuse the pun — nicely for the cello player’s performance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks – let’s hope it goes well for her! 🙂

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      1. Funny, I suppose that because the story was written by a man, I envisioned the musician as a him not a her. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Always a nice challenge to write as the opposite gender.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I think this will work.. so well told…

    PS. Shouldn’t it be breathe instead of breath?

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    1. Thanks Bjorn – quite right, corrected, much obliged.

      Like

  10. Always staggers me, the years of practice and devotion needed to reach this level of artistry – astonishing in itself. Nicely captured feeling of anticiptaion, Iain, a lovely build up. And it all payd off in the end. Great story

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lynn, staggers me too, not something I would ever be able to do! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me neither. Although, sticking with the writing for years shows some dedication – so we do have it in us!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Funny, I envisioned the musician as a “him” not a “her.” Makes no difference the anxiousness and anticipation shine through your 100-words.

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  12. Nice portrayal of opening night debut blues!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You built the tension very well. The breathing, the line “I grip the neck”, even “the chatter.” It all worked very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A very real portrayal of all the hard work and dedication required to become the best craftsman they can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks very much for this, Iain. I play the violin and wasn’t too sure about the bleeding fingers but turns out the cello can get rough. I remember when I first played in public and we had trouble with the lights. There were holes in the music stand and the lights were coloured and the music appeared with bright glowing pink holes. Not good for a first performance. I actually broke my foot just before another performance and still went on stage with blood dripping down my leg. Performing takes a lot of commitment. https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/this-violinist-plays-on/
    It seems like some degree of nerves is quite warranted.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rowena – playing on with a broken foot, that’s dedicated! I admire musicians who have committed so much time and effort to it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m new to the violin but my grandmother was a professional concert pianist and practiced for 5 hours a day. She loved it. All that practice wasn’t an effort. My Mum was her pupil and that’s how my parents met.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Great description of the way someone must feel after all that practice and finally on stage, finally for real.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I like how they positively reinforce themselves before the show.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I am so glad this didn’t have a sad end. I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, no sad end this week 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  19. The pause, the fear, the first note. Simply gorgeous. I really enjoyed this. The magic of performance

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much Laurie, much appreciated compliment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Loved your depiction of that feeling of nervousness and excitement just before going onstage, it really rang true to me! I like how you stopped before the narrator actually played, which makes sense for that transition; it’s like stepping into a whole different space, becoming a different person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joy, I also think there is a sense that words can’t do justice to a really immersive music experience, so leave that to the imagination.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s true, I’d think it would be very hard to describe well.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. it was a moment he’d remember for a long time. you had captured it well. very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of a few moments they will look back on and remember at the end of their life as a defining one. Many thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Well captured in 100 words, the lifetime of dedication leading up to that one supreme moment

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You summed it up nicely, Iain. For performers there’s that moment of truth. They have the lousiest rehearsals, but, when push comes to shove and the lights are up, the magic seems to happen.

    Five out of five rosin blocks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love the step by step movement, leading to the stage–– wonderful tension building, without spelling it all out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Dawn, very kind.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. You capture that moment right before a musician plays for an audience well. This seems like a very prestigious place to play and an honor to play at. I hope he does well. That the sacrifice of his childhood was worth it! Great job.

    Like

  26. Oh – I hope he took some pleasure (dare I say, exultation?) in the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think once started the music would have exulted him. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  27. I enjoyed the way you built up his anticipation of getting to the point of playing on stage. You walked us through his steps perfectly. I loved your take the prompt. Well done ..
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, much appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  28. You’ve portrayed that tension so perfectly. I know all about it. This is why I don’t do solo song recitals anymore. It was too much for my nerves and making me too thin. No bleeding vocal cords, though!
    It must be incredible pressure for someone, if there’s huge parental expectations put upon them, too — the feeling that you might let down the people who probably feel that they’ve sacrificed so much for you, when the sacrifice has doubtless been the other way round.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sarah, I really do admire musicians and singers who can put themselves out there like that. Glad I managed to convey something of that in the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. I like your story too. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Cassie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Beautifully written. For a moment I thought he wouldn’t go through with the performance. You really managed building up a tension.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, glad you liked it 🙂

      Like

  31. Nicely told, Iain, you capture the moment and the history leading to it very well

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, much appreciated.

      Like

  32. A vivid description of how the artist feels just before the performance from his point of view. Good writing, Iain.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I was ‘there’, too. You transported us into a perfect moment of concentration, memory, culmination of effort. I could hear the coughs in the audience. Great writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, glad I managed to convey that moment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  34. What a relatable moment! And “a childhood sacrificed” lets us imagine the family dynamic that might have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Emily, I wonder how much the parents pushed them into it! 🙂

      Like

    1. Ha, many thanks Dawn 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Great. You depicted very well the emotions as if it’s your own story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I wish I did have the ability for it to be my own story, sadly I’m not that musical! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How did you describe so well?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Just imagination and things you hear and see from those that do perform. Most writing is made up after all!

          Like

  36. I really like this! The tension feels so real. It reminds me when I had to do solos for choir or the first night of performance for drama. 🙂 Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I’ve never been good enough / brave enough to do anything like that, so much respect to you! 🙂

      Like

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