Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)
TITLE: The Maestro's Opus
By PF Davids
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Stepping from behind the curtain, William walked across the stage to the sound of enthusiastic applause. Until he, and his spotlight, reached the ornate grand piano at center stage, nothing else could be seen in the entire auditorium. It was just the way he liked it. Danforth was a showman, but also the best pianist in the world, precisely why the Maestro selected him to perform his Opus.
Taking a seat at the piano and turning over the music sheet, William paused, allowing the audience’s anticipation to grow. At just the right moment, his nimble fingers began their graceful dance across the keys.
Quickly, though, Danforth found himself struggling. The piece displayed technical competence, but lacked the special quality present in all great works of music. The Opus was flawed.
Still, being a professional, he finished the performance. After accepting the audience’s tepid applause, William stormed off the stage in embarrassment, snapping at the stage manager, “The old man is slipping!”
Walking toward his dressing room, William felt his cell-phone vibrating. Answering it, he heard the Maestro’s voice. “Please come, I’d like to speak with you.”
“Fine,” he replied tersely, snapping his phone off.
Making his way to the back of the music hall, Danforth stomped up a little-used set of stairs toward a small office. A small window let in the last of the day’s light, shining directly onto a red nameplate beside the door. Two words, etched in white, stood in stark relief against the red background; “The Maestro.”
The door opened before William could knock. The Maestro greeted him warmly, even slipping a friendly arm across his shoulders. The pianist’s anger drained away.
“I hear you’re not fond of my Opus, William.”
“It looks good on paper, Maestro, but I can’t make it come alive.”
The composer nodded his understanding, but suggested, “Maybe you shouldn’t try.”
“I’m sorry, it just needs improvement.”
Smiling, the old man said, “Have you not known me a long time?”
“Yes, Maestro, of course.”
“And have I ever let you down?”
“Then why do you think I would start now?” With piercing eyes, the Maestro looked deeply at William, staring right into his soul. “I need your commitment. Can you trust in me? In my Opus?”
The pianist hesitated, but only briefly, “Yes.”
“Then let’s go back to the music hall.”
Making their way down the stairs, the Maestro led him down a long, well lit corridor along the back wall. Reaching the end, the Maestro opened a pair of double doors and ushered William inside. The pianist could hear the sound of an orchestra tuning up as he stepped across the threshold, finding himself beside the concert hall’s front row. The crowd remained in their seats, awaiting the concert’s final act.
Seeing the Maestro enter, the musicians on stage fell silent, reverently awaiting his direction. Every seat was filled save one, the bench before William’s grand piano. Instead of center stage, though, the piano was pushed to the far left, almost out of sight.
Walking over to the podium, the Maestro nodded to the musicians. Grasping the baton in experienced hands, he tapped it three times then crisply began conducting the orchestra.
William stood there, stunned, as the breathtaking sound washed over his body. He’d never heard anything so beautiful in all his life. Every note was precisely played, each musician following the Maestro’s direction perfectly. The resulting melody could only be described as rapturous.
Deftly moving the baton without missing a beat, the Maestro motioned William closer. “What do you think?” he whispered.
The Maestro beamed. “You’re beginning to see now. The song you played didn’t sound right by itself because, when I’m composing it, I see the role you play as part of the entire orchestra.”
William nodded, tears welling as he recognized his foolishness for doubting the Maestro.
The Master Musician placed his hand on William’s shoulder and nodded toward the empty piano bench. The pianist’s body tingled with the Maestro’s next words. “The orchestra isn’t complete without you, take your place in my Opus.”
Understanding his role for the first time in his life, William J. Danforth walked unnoticed across the stage.
He couldn’t have been happier.
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