"Down-2-3, up-2-3." Breathe in; breathe out, calming myself as I bow. The spotlight shines bright as the hallowed hall is silent in rapt attention. The fact that I am standing where the greatest artists in the world have once defined their careers is not lost on me. But tonight, Carnegie Hall and this majestic stage, is mine.
As the pianist begins to play, I slowly place my bow on the strings and I confidently fill the hall with the blasting sound of my first note. On stage, the heat of the lights and the reality of my surroundings slowly melt away as I am whisked into my musical reverie. With each note, the sacrifices and frustrations of the past few months of preparations was replaced with a rewarding sense of accomplishment.
"Snap." A bow hair suddenly breaks; the audience gasps. Unfazed while continuing to rip through the rapid passages, more bow hairs snap and wriggle in the air. The end of the phrase is near when suddenly one of the stray bow hairs gets tangled with my fingers, causing me to miss notes in the passage. And just as suddenly as it began, I realize now, that my biggest performance is in jeopardy.
"Express what it means to you, and in so doing, show me who you are. Tell me a story, and nobody will ever be able to take that performance away from you".
In the midst of panic, these words of the renowned Italian violin professor were comforting. A perfect performance is not just correct notes, but rather the medium through which complex ideas could be expressed. Emboldened, I push away my distractions, and tear the hairs from my bow, as if wiping a clean slate. Harnessing what music means to me, I let my violin be my voice. It is time to tell my story.
"Bravo!" The audience roars as my bow stays high in the air after a strong exciting finish. Despite the challenges, tonight was a success. As I look into the audience and see my family's faces, I realize at last the most important lesson music has taught me; devotion. It is the devotion from my parents who take me to and from lessons for eleven years, and the devotion that drives the sacrifices I have made in the pursuit of perfection, which has inspired all facets of my life by bringing that love and dedication to my research work and my charity concerts for the underprivileged.
My performance tonight stands as a testament of my personal growth. This performance was the culmination of years competing from the smallest local contests to the grandest stages on the international level. Each passage is a story of diligence and perseverance, reflecting the pain of my failures and the strength necessary to rebound from them. The confidence I gained through competitions and the qualities imparted on me by music, will forever give me the strength to perform on any stage. For with Carnegie Hall conquered, the world is up next.