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“That went pretty well,” Nadia Weber exclaimed, as she leaned back on the piano bench and grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat from her face and neck.
“Yeah, the tempo was much better that time,” Adrienne Sokol declared as she set her bow aside and started wiping off the strings of her cello. “I think, Herr Ludwig would have approved.”
“Speaking of which, I need to get those Ashkenazy recordings back to you,” Nadia noted as she slipped her music into her backpack.
“No rush. As long as I get them back before you leave,” Adrienne replied, referring to the Beethoven cello sonatas she’d loaned Nadia in advance of playing together.
The two musicians had just run through the final movement of Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in F, which they would perform in its entirety at Adrienne’s upcoming graduate recital. It was the last step on the road to attaining her college music degree. To Adrienne’s relief, Nadia had agreed to play piano for her concert. Though only two years ahead of Adrienne, Nadia was an accomplished pianist who was greatly in demand as a performer and teacher in and around town. Story was, when Nadia heard Adrienne was looking for someone to play piano on the Beethoven sonata, she offered to work on the project. They had so much fun playing together, that they decided to work up all three movements.
Adrienne had offered to pay her, but she refused payment. “No way, girl! I’m doing this purely out of love.”
“Aw, for me?” Adrienne teased.
“Sorry babe, you’re cute, but not that cute. If you can get me a good recording of our performance, I’ll be happy with that.”
“Easily arranged,” Adrienne assured her, thrilled that she had Nadia on board.
“I’ve always wanted to play these sonatas,” Nadia mused, almost to herself. “Maybe when I return, we could record the whole set?”
“I’d be so up for that,” Adrienne replied enthusiastically. “Once you get back from Germany with all that newfound knowledge and expertise.”
“And maybe a boyfriend thrown in for good measure.”
Adrienne had to smile, for it was just like Nadia to play the field while over there. She had met Nadia at a couple of parties, and knew her to be quite popular with the guys. But other than the parties, and now performing together, they didn’t move within the same circles.
A part of Adrienne entertained the idea of a boyfriend, though she never seemed to put much effort into getting them interested in her. One of her teachers had made a move on her, but he was this side of forty, and Adrienne was barely twenty. In the end, she determined that a boyfriend would demand too much of her time, and take her away from her musical pursuits.
“Now is the time for focusing on my career. Relationships come later,” she kept telling herself.
For Adrienne Sokol, life revolved around her music, and the hope of becoming a professional cellist, either in an orchestra, chamber group, or as a session player. Not overly tall, at five-foot-six, and a bit introverted, Adrienne tended to shun the spotlight. Not optimal for someone pursuing a musical career. However, what she did know about herself is that she was most passionate and at her best when she was performing.
Adrienne never garnered much attention from the guys, but she also didn’t put herself ‘out there.’ She derived her looks, which weren’t overly feminine, from her Eastern European ancestry. She had dark brown eyes beneath full eyebrows, a strong jawline, slightly aquiline nose and a small, full-lipped mouth. Her face was framed by thick, dark hair that fell to her mid-back. She liked to curl her hair with a curling iron to give it some wave, and sometimes, when she practiced, she would let it swing loose and free. But for performances, she’d pull it back and secure the tresses behind her with a band or tie atop her head.
As a way of saving money, Adrienne avoided gyms, choosing to run in the nearby parks to keep in shape. And like many musicians, she had strong hands and well-defined, muscled arms from years of playing and hauling her cello about. As for Adrienne’s body, it wasn’t soft or curvaceous. Even at five-foot-six, her body appeared lanky. She wasn’t that endowed in the chest either, which used to bother her quite a bit. But not so much anymore.
When it came to her appearance, Adrienne was a trifle lazy. Other than curling her hair, makeup was usually shunned, and classy dresses and hairstyling were reserved for concerts.
Though her recital was still a month away, Adrienne didn’t want to waste a day preparing for it. She planned to be at her very best, partly because Mrs. Hewitt, her current cello instructor, had arranged for one of the symphony’s board members to attend her recital. And so, she decided to take on a fairly complex program to impress, which meant continual practice right up to the May performance date.
After the school year ended, Adrienne hoped to form a string quartet to play various events, and maybe even tour. And then there was always the possibility of getting balıkesir escort into an orchestra. Such a goal was not beyond her reach. Adrienne was an exceptionally fine player. She had been playing cello since she was ten years old, which she switched to after several years of playing the violin. After having watched a young Jacqueline du Pré perform on television, she decided that was the instrument for her, and mercilessly begged her parents for a cello. Eventually, her parents relented. They rented their daughter a cello and paid for lessons. Her earliest teachers assured her parents that Adrienne was especially gifted, and worth supporting. And Adrienne never had to be coerced to practice, for she loved the cello with all her heart.
The main issue for her parents were the cost of lessons, as well as the purchase of a cello. They eventually were able to buy Adrienne a cello at an affordable price thanks to Adrienne’s teacher who procured one for them.
Sadly, Adrienne’s father passed away a year ago from a heart attack, leaving Adrienne and her mother with only each other, and a significant drop in income. There were investments and his life insurance, but to help with expenses, Adrienne lived at home with her mom and attended the nearby private arts college, considered to be one of the region’s better schools for music and drama. It also helped that, thanks to her audition and several key references, she was awarded a full music scholarship. It was a tremendous relief, as the family savings would hardly have covered the costs.
“Adrienne, do you have a minute?” Adrienne stopped packing up her gear as Mr. Drexel entered the rehearsal room.
“Sure, what’s up, Mr. Drexel?” Adrienne asked the school’s music director, while setting her bag down. She had to smile when he put his hands behind his back and rocked on his heels. It was a trademark gesture of his that many students loved to parody.
“I need to ask a favor of you. I’d like you to play cello for the Spring musical.”
Adrienne scrunched her face into a grimace. “I don’t think I can Mr. Drexel. I’ve got tests coming up, a paper to write, and I’m in the middle of preparing for my Senior recital, which is taking up pretty much all my spare time.” At the sight of Mr. Drexel’s crestfallen expression, she added out of courtesy, “When’s the musical set to run?”
He perked up instantly. “The show runs last two weekends of April, so we’d be done well before your May 17 recital. It is May 17, correct?”
“Yes, Sir…” Adrienne confirmed, cautiously aware that she was being roped in.
“The commitment would be minimal, I promise. There are two orchestral rehearsals this coming week, then we’re into dress rehearsals. I’ll use Ryan to cover the bulk of the show. What I mainly want you for is a duet for cello and soprano that occurs near the end of the show.”
It was quite the sell, but Adrienne still wasn’t convinced. Musical scores were usually pretty easy, and yet rehearsals were often plentiful due to having to coordinate with the actors and tech. “Do you really need me sawing away in an orchestra pit? Surely, Ryan can play the duet. Those parts usually aren’t that difficult.”
“True, they usually aren’t,” Mr. Drexel agreed. “However, this one’s a bit tricky. It’s a new work, and along with being unfamiliar, it does contain some difficult passages, particularly in the duet. And your cello tone would make a huge difference. Honestly, I don’t think Ryan can handle it. Now I can’t speak to the story line—that’s Miss Fenton’s area—but she assures me that the duet is critical to the dramatic action. Adrienne, it’s an exciting piece, and if done correctly, it could really bring down the house. And the soprano is being played by Juliet Langford. She’s a senior. Do you know her?”
“Juliet Langford…Oh yeah,” Adrienne replied, perking up as memories of the actress appeared in her mind’s eye. “I’ve seen her on stage a few times. She’s a good actress.”
Adrienne was a fan of Juliet’s work, having seen her a couple of years ago as Cecily in Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.” She was so captivated by the girl’s performance that she’d made a point to see her in every role since. Another one of her favorites was seeing Juliet play Viola in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” She did sing in that show, but Adrienne didn’t remember it being particularly difficult.
“Is she a good singer?”
“She’s excellent,” Mr. Drexel replied with a smile. “Sings like a bird. Wait ’til you hear her. Would you promise to at least have a look at the part, and then let me know?”
As he spoke, he reached into his satchel and extracted the score. He held it out for Adrienne to take. She took the score and began leafing through it, as Mr. Drexel continued with his spiel.
“Now, not that I’m putting any pressure on you, but I think you could make quite the impression with this duet. It’s a spectacular piece. Not too shabby a credit for your resume. You’ll balıkesir escort bayan even get your own bow come curtain call.”
Adrienne had to admit that the cello part looked interesting. It wasn’t too long, and its difficulties weren’t beyond her abilities. The main challenge would be playing in consort with the soprano, which might require some extra rehearsals. That might not be too bad seeing as she’d get to work with Juliet Langford.
When she again made eye contact with Mr. Drexel, his pleading, boyish expression made her shake her head. He was making it hard for her to refuse. But she was no stranger to musicals and operas, and knew very well how they could swallow up one’s life. But the offer to play a new work was tempting.
She sighed dramatically, and through a clenched smile, agreed. “Okay…I’ll do it.”
“Hey, Adrienne,” Jason called over to her from the brass section. “Glad to hear you’re joining us.”
“Well, you know how much I love musicals,” she replied in a sarcastic tone while lugging her cello over to the string section.
“Actually, this one’s pretty good,” another player chimed in. “At least the music is.”
Adrienne had to agree that she liked the music, at least the duet. In preparation for the first run-through, she’d played through it several times and had quickly developed an appreciation for the piece.
As she adjusted her bow, she heard laughter from the far end of the room and saw a dozen or so performers mulling about. There in the crowd was a young woman, Adrienne took to be Juliet Langford. She recognized those intense blue eyes, the strong jaw and prominent forehead, her blonde hair falling to just above her shoulders. Even though Juliet was casually dressed in a white blouse and jeans, to Adrienne’s eyes, the young actress’s elegance was evident.
“Okay, people, listen up,” Mr. Drexel began. “Today is strictly for running the musical numbers. Once your numbers are finished, you can leave for the day. We’ll start with the chorus numbers and then focus on the leads. I’m also very thrilled to introduce our cellist, Adrienne Sokol. Adrienne will be playing the duet with Juliet that appears at the end of the show.”
The singers and instrumentalists all cheered for Adrienne who felt a blush creep across her face. Suddenly, she froze as Juliet hurried over, her short blonde hair bouncing as she moved. At five-foot-seven, Juliet was slightly taller than Adrienne, though she looked even taller, thanks to a narrow torso and a pair of long, slender legs.
Adrienne had always thought the actress attractive, though she’d only ever seen her on the stage, supported by lighting, costumes and makeup. However, seeing her up close, in what was surely her more natural state, Adrienne realized just how stunningly beautiful she was.
“Adrienne, I’m so glad you’re doing this. I keep hearing how good you are. I’m Juliet, by the way, the one you’ll be playing the duet with,” she said in a bright, cheery manner while proffering her hand.
Adrienne firmly clasped Juliet’s hand and gave it a shake. Juliet’s hand was slender and delicate in contrast to Adrienne’s more muscled right hand, strengthened by years of study. “I’m looking forward to working with you, too,” Adrienne answered. “I played through the piece and I really like it. By the way, I’m a big fan of your work.”
Juliet’s eyebrows raised. “You are?”
“Oh yeah,” Adrienne noted proudly. “First time I saw you was as Cecily in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. Since then, I’ve pretty much seen you in everything you’ve done. Really enjoyed you in ‘Twelfth Night’, too.”
Juliet’s smile widened. “Wow, you really are a fan, that’s so cool. Thank you.”
“At your service, my lady,” Adrienne replied with a slight bow and sweep of her hand. As soon as Adrienne had done that, she wished she hadn’t. It seemed silly, but it did make Juliet laugh. There followed a brief lull in their conversation as the two girls found themselves without anything more to say.
“Uh, well, see you in a bit,” Juliet finally managed to get out. She smiled and headed back over toward the other singers.
For most of the rehearsal, Adrienne barely picked up her bow. The agreement with Mr. Drexel was that the second cellist, Ryan, would cover the bulk of the score, leaving Adrienne to concentrate on secondary parts and the duet, in respect of her recital obligations. Despite the wait, it was a pleasure to be able to sit back and enjoy the score, which she liked, most particularly because she got to hear Juliet sing. Her singing seemed effortless, and her tone was clear and pitch perfect.
“Okay, let’s work the duet,” Mr. Drexel announced.
The duet wasn’t purely a duet, as the opening section of the piece featured the whole ensemble. It was midway through the piece when the cello became a prominent voice, and soon joined the soprano in a fantasy-like vocalese, which meant the voice sang without words, and escort balıkesir the cello answered the voice with counter melodies of its own. Near the end, the interplay between the soprano and cello became more intricate, gaining intensity until the two joined together, finally resolving as the orchestra joined in for the last few chords.
The first run went fairly smoothly, generating applause and foot stamping from the others in the room. Mr. Drexel then went over a couple of problem areas before the ensemble rehearsed it a second time.
Adrienne had to admit that she found the piece a delight to play, and Juliet’s voice and her cello played off each other as if they’d been doing it for years. There were still some issues with dynamics and timing, but all that could be worked out.
“That was so much fun,” Juliet said, after they finished the run. “It was fantastic to finally hear how it’s going to sound with the cello. Isn’t it just magical?”
“It is, and you sing it beautifully,” Adrienne replied, from her chair, causing Juliet to blush, and beam a smile.
Adrienne felt like a star struck fan, which was weird because in musical circles Adrienne was a star in her own right. Yet something about finally getting to meet this actress she’d admired from afar, felt special. Maybe it wasn’t just that Juliet was talented, but that she seemed quite good natured and down to earth. Whatever the reason, getting to work on a creative project with her uplifted Adrienne’s spirits.
Adrienne had packed up and was about ready to head out, when Juliet came over to her. “Um…would you be up to getting together outside of rehearsal, just the two of us, so we can run through the duet by ourselves? It would really help if I could talk through it with you. I think with a little bit of practice we could really make this piece sing. I don’t think it would take long…”
Adrienne could not suppress a smile. The normally confident Juliet Langford was shy with her delivery. It was cute. But Adrienne also loved that Juliet wanted to work the piece. It said a lot about her as a person. “No, I don’t mind at all. I think it’s a good idea. If you want, we can rehearse upstairs, room 210. I’m usually in there most afternoons from three to four, preparing for my recital.”
“You’re giving a recital? When?”
“May 17. In the small theatre.”
“Oh, I want to come.”
Adrienne was pleasantly surprised by her interest. “I’d love it if you came,” she replied, unable to conceal her delight. “So, yeah, what about rehearsing tomorrow? I’ll be free at four o’clock.”
“Sure, that works. Tell you what: I’ve rehearsal tomorrow at seven, and need to eat something beforehand, so why don’t we have dinner together, afterward. My treat.”
“Juliet, you don’t have to treat me.”
“Of course, I do. I want to thank you for being part of this show. I know you’re busy with your recital coming up, and all.” She flashed a smile.
“Alright then, it’s a date,” Adrienne declared. “See you tomorrow at four.”
That evening, after dinner with her mom, Adrienne found herself replaying highlights from that day’s rehearsal, all of them featuring Juliet Langford. She recalled the clear sound of her voice and the way her eyes closed in concentration as she ran through the more difficult sections. And then there was her burst of laughter during that time when things went off the rails, and the look on her face as Dr. Drexel gave her notes. Those fleeting memories made Adrienne smile. She was impressed by Juliet. But more than that, she liked Juliet. And that led her to mull over tomorrow’s rehearsal and the dinner afterward. Rehearsing the duet made total sense, but the dinner invite was totally unexpected. And being treated, too!
“Well, it’s a chance to learn more about her,” Adrienne thought. “Maybe we could become friends?”
She looked at the clock and realized she’d spent the past half hour thinking about Juliet. She grabbed her history book and tried to read a few pages, but just couldn’t concentrate.
After struggling to corral her thoughts, she closed her book, and got ready for bed.
Juliet showed up a little before four, just as Nadia and Adrienne were finishing the first movement of the Beethoven Cello Sonata. The actress stood off to the side and quietly listened to the girls finish the piece. After a beautiful slow section, the piece ended with a flurry of arpeggios and chords. By the end of it, both girls were flush with exertion.
At the finish, Juliet applauded, and Adrienne looked over at her with a wide smile. Brushing a stray lock of hair from off her sweaty forehead, Adrienne introduced Juliet to her playing partner. “Juliet, this is Nadia,” she began, introducing her pianist friend. “Juliet is singing the duet with me in the musical.”
“Nice to meet you. Adrienne’s told me all about this duet. It sounds quite beautiful,” Nadia said, wiping her hands on a towel before taking the actress’s hand and shaking it.
“I hope so. I caught a little of that last piece you were playing, and it sounds difficult,” Juliet noted.
“It is, but worth it. Actually, the whole program is a challenge, but I enjoy playing with Adrienne. She’s really good. You should come to the recital,” Nadia pressed. “We welcome all the love and support we can get.”
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