A week or two after my first date with Ryan, before we had really become an item, he invited me to his BYU University Orchestra concert. I considered skipping it to play hard-to-get, but I'm so glad I finally decided to attend.
He was the second-chair french horn that year, and he played this iconic solo beautifully (2:21 through 3:01 in this video):
I've been to four of these orchestra concerts of his now, and none has been as great as the first. It was well-rehearsed, dynamic-- I would even say it was moving. And, it showed me a side of Ryan I hadn't seen yet, and which I happened to love!
Based on the kids I knew in high school, I always thought horn players were weird (and to be fair, they really were). No doubt, Ryan was one of those weird kids too. Good thing everyone grows up, myself included. My view of brass players has matured somewhat, but I do still get a giggle out of watching someone contort their face around a horn's mouthpiece and blow like mad (C'mon! It's just so silly!)
From attending these performances and watching (or listening to) Ryan prepare for each one, I've learned just how freaking cool the french horn is. It's such a different animal; it's like some amphibian evolutionary cousin to the brass instruments. I mean, it definitely shares DNA but it's distinct enough to be disqualified from brass bands. That mellow tone! That fancy twisty tubing! They're so awesome I just want to eat ice cream out of a french horn like it were a waffle cone.
Someone please make that happen for me.
Anyway, after the performance, I came to the lobby to congratulate him and eat some stale cookies. I was impressed by the sight of him in a tuxedo and briefly thought, "Not bad. I guess that's what he'll look like on his wedding day."
I had planned on walking home, but he was excited that I had decided to come and eager to give me a ride home. His car smelled lingeringly of Domino's pizza (ah, the jobs we do in college), which kind of made the moment less serene, but more memorable.
Here are a couple of clips from the 2009 and 2010 concerts. (Parents and grandparents reading this blog are the only ones expected to watch these videos. Everyone else is off the hook.)
Spring 2009, Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain: See if you can hear his buried horn solo at 2:22.
For the record, Ryan's performances have been consistently stellar, and only improving over his music minor career. But between the the introduction of graduate student directors, and the orchestra becoming a "walk-on" ensemble in 2008, there's been a gradual decline in overall quality every year since 2007.
By 2010, even a rookie like me could detect a few mistakes in the strings and woodwinds (the horns of course, can do no wrong). If nothing else, the 2010 rendition of The Sorcerer's Apprentice this took me back to my Fantasia-watching days:
Now that Ryan is graduating, I'm going to miss his annual orchestra performances. Oh well. Onwards and upwards!