A Song In My Heart - Excerpt -From Chapter 4: "Dance of the Nymphs and Satyrs"

December 31, 1916

On New Year's Eve day, the Stanford family drove to the Minneapolis Auditorium. Alejandra had been waiting feverishly for this day, and when she and her parents arrived at the concert venue, beautifully adorned in holiday décor, they took their seats in the middle of the fifth row of the crowded hall. From there she had a perfect view of the stage, which had an enormous mural of the North Woods as the backdrop for the eighty-five-piece orchestra that waited patiently for its conductor.

Moments later, Emil Oberhoffer stepped onto the stage as the public applauded enthusiastically. He took his position in front of the podium and seconds later waved his baton. The orchestra began to play Dvorak's New World Symphony followed by Wagner's overture "Tannhauser." Then the piano soloist Miss Theodora Troendle walked onto the stage wearing a rose-colored lace dress. Her striking smile captured the audience, but when she sat at the bench and began to play the grand piano, her fingers moved through the piano keys with great lightness, as if a bird was flying across the blue skies.

Alejandra was impressed by her virtuosity and the emotion she expressed through the music. During intermission, she read the program notes and learned the concert pianist started playing piano at the age of five. As she waited for her parents to return, she glanced at the stage and stared at the musical instruments that lay neatly arranged on the empty chairs. A few minutes later, everyone returned to their seats.

Once all the musicians came together to complete the program as they performed Georg Schumann's "Dance of Nymphs & Satyrs" from Cupid and Psyche, opus 3, Alejandra came to a full realization. She listened attentively to every phrase the musicians played on flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, and the strings, but it was the conductor who caught her attention. What would it be like and feel like to stand there as a conductor? To direct the wind, string, and horn sections? To interpret the music of Bach, Strauss, and Beethoven? What a privilege! Alejandra's heart swelled with joy and wonder. It was all something to dream about, to be a concert pianist, or perhaps even a conductor. She smiled at herself for having such grand ambitions.

This was the first time she thought about music, not as entertainment or enjoyment, or even as comfort and creativity as she had in the past. That night, amid the huge crowd, applauses, and symphonic music, she thought of music as a profession. Didn't her father tell her countless times, anything was possible with hard work and determination? As she escaped into her daydreaming and imagined herself at the podium conducting the orchestra, she heard the thunderous applause once more, and her atten­tion returned to the festive scene before her as Miss Troendle stood up and bowed her head. She remembered her Grandmother Delia and the first time she saw her play the piano all those years before. The two ladies are both graceful, both filled with pride, and both inspiring, she thought as she joined the rest of the audience in a standing ovation.

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