As a current vocalist and former cellist, I don’t get the chance to dive into the realms of cello playing like I used to. Luckily enough, I was told about the Illini Student Musicals production of Little Women needing a cellist for their pit orchestra. I couldn’t turn down such an opportunity as it allows me to perform the cello again. Prior to this experience, I have never performed in a pit orchestra because I was always more involved in the acting aspect of the show. I always knew and have been told that pit orchestra is way different than a regular orchestra, but I never really quite understood until we started to practice.
The pit orchestra met twice before the sitzprobe (where the pit orchestra and the ensemble rehearse together) and it was pretty difficult to follow where we were in the music. The keys always drastically change, the tempo fluctuates, and on top of that, knowing that you have to prepare yourself to jump around in the music if the actors on stage miss a cue or a line. It took flexibility, awareness, and great skills of listening during rehearsals and performances. It was a huge learning experience being in the pit orchestra for the first time. I even think it’s more difficult to perform in a pit orchestra than in a regular orchestra. I had a great time meeting new people, playing the cello, and getting a different perspective on performing shows.