The entrance exam
Two weeks ago today a woman fell, landing with her butt on her fallen bicycle right in front of the "poffertjes" cafe where she had dined only the day before. Without turning her head but fully aware that everyone was watching her, she quickly got back on her bicycle as she couldn't afford to be late for her entrance exam.
When she arrived at the train station, she noticed that her palm was bleeding. A big patch of skin had been scraped off during the fall, and she didn't even feel it in her haste. As she tried to stop the bleeding with some tissue, she secretly hoped that she wouldn't be asked to play her compositions which were written for different instruments. She had spent a lot of time getting them recorded on a CD. Together with her printed scores, the CD could make or break the day.
On the top floor of the conservatory, she paced about nervously. Having arrived an hour early, she had more time to worry. She could hear the previous candidate through the door. He played a nice piece on the guitar and then another piece on the piano. Such talent! Such youth! How could she compete?
While she waited, she heard someone play a harpsichord in another room. A little later, a viola de gamba joined in. The rooms of the conservatory released beautiful music. As much as she wanted to create such music, she was also prepared if she were to fail. Her ego had become fragile after being rejected too many times lately.
A familiar guy came out of the exam room. What's he doing here? He was the one who offered to turn pages for her in the last composers concert. He had turned one page so slowly that she lost her place and completely messed up. He was, after all, a pianist, and surely must have known how to turn pages for another pianist!
The door opened. The young candidate before her came out. They both waited for the results. He went back in.
She eavesdropped. "You played very well, but...."
When he emerged again, she knew from his sullen face that he had not succeeded.
It was her turn finally. She was the last candidate for the day. The room was hot. The three examiners looked tired and bored.
She put her CD in the CD player. It didn't play. That familiar guy came to her aid. He took out her CD and wiped it with his T-shirt. It still didn't work. She cursed silently. She was sure that he had deliberately messed up her CD.
One of the examiners took her scores and started to sightread the first piece "435-6964." She had written six short pieces, all ending on the 40th measure. The first piece was for guitar and cello. As she proceeded to turn the page for him, the mad professor-look-alike stopped and asked if she could play.
She had written all six pieces in the last two months, stemming from the different emotional stages she had experienced in the aftermath of an encounter. She had initially named her compositions after these emotions. Later she renamed "Forgiveness" with "Purple Azalea", "Apology" with "Scherzo", but kept one title unchanged.
During the fifth piece, one of the examiners left the room to take a phone call.
"Is that it?" asked the mad professor.
"No," she replied. "There's actually one more. Just in case, I've left this piece for last."
She sat down again and put herself in the mood for the final piano solo, entitled "Rejection."
29 June 2004 Tuesday