LA Phil Blog

Memories of Concerts Past

Memories of Concerts Past

<p>As I sit here backstage at NJPAC before our penultimate concert of this exhilarating tour, I remember the last time I was here, 7 years ago, playing alone on the stage for Zubin Mehta when the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was on tour – that was the very night I picked the very violin I am currently playing on…</p>
<p>Speaking of memories, playing in Lincoln Center last night brought back a lot of powerful emotions, and, for the first time on this tour, I was nervous. I grew up in NY – studied at Juilliard for 7 years and around Manhattan for 4 more, and my formative musical experiences took place in Lincoln Center. I remember how tickets to Avery Fischer Hall New York Philharmonic concerts were a rare and treasured gift, and on days that I might be fortunate enough to get a ticket from a teacher, my Mother would drive me all the way to New York City (70 miles from home upstate) and circle Lincoln Center in the car, sometimes in the freezing cold (because parking was ridiculously expensive…and still is) as I heard the concert in the Hall, and then drive me back home another 70 miles. Certain days, after Pre-College lessons every Saturday, she’d extend her 14 hour day to an 18 or 19 hour day, just to have my brother and I hear those concerts. These were my first orchestra concerts – my first Dvorak 9, my first Mahler 5, the first time I ever heard Itzahk Perlman or Lynn Harrell. When I was a little older and studying with Glenn Dicterow, (the Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic) I’d have lessons at Avery Fisher, usually in his dressing room on the 5th floor, but sometimes he’d pull me onto the stage before a competition or audition, to hear me in the Hall (and I would see other New York Phil members – my buddy Joe Pereira included). Like I said, my most formative musical experiences. </p>
<p>Avery Fisher Hall was a magical place for me. It was a pantheon of music I experienced growing up that shaped me as the musician I am now. I had performed at Carnegie Hall, and I had played at Alice Tully, on stages all over New York and all over the world, but I never played a concert on the stage at Avery Fisher. </p>
<p>That changed last night. And the orchestra never sounded better. Tchaikovsky 6 in the first hall I ever heard Tchaikovsky 6. Several of us were close to tears on the stage during the last two lines of the symphony. </p>
<p>And my Mother came: it was the first time after coming to Manhattan for over 15 years for both her sons’ educations at Juilliard that she ever heard a concert in Avery Fisher Hall. I even told her to forget about circling Lincoln Center for parking (an inherent, sordid and unshakeable habit of hers) and spare the ridiculous parking fee to come hear the concert for which I scored a last-minute ticket. It was the first time she heard the LA Phil, and she came back around the hall after the concert (exactly to our old pickup and drop-off zone for those concerts years ago), completely bawling as she met my orchestral friends and family. I’ll never forget the look on her face as we turned to hear a low voice growl, “Gupta, Gupta!! So great to hear you and your wonderful orchestra!” (it was Itzahk Perlman). Today is exactly 3 years from the very day I auditioned for this orchestra, now my home, my family. I wouldn’t be here without them, without my Mother, or without those years here in New York. </p>