In the time it took me to edit my last rant down to a non-homicidal level for publication, I had a rejuvenating weekend in Chicago - a perfect antidote to all the nonsense in my life during the past few weeks. Great company, great music, and tons of great food. And Zoe was everything I had daydreamed about my daughter being.
In the first place, it was a treat to play Loeffler with Sharon and Paul. We had performed this work together five years ago, and worked hard on it then. We were all well prepared this time around, and five years more advanced in our own playing, and it went together like a dream. Our short rehearsal was one of the most gratifying experiences I've had in a while.
We stayed over Friday night after our first rehearsal and had a late-night dinner and yummy red wine. My pianist, Paul, is also the most satisfying cook I know - everything he makes is designed to have the maximum possible calories per bite, and therefore is the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. Also, he makes buckets and buckets of it. And somehow, everyone in his house is always a marvelous, warm human being. He draws those people, or makes people into those people.
On Saturday we had a huge power breakfast - again courtesy of Paul - and then I gadded about the city visiting friends and enjoying the weather and showing off Zoe. Back at Paul's, we doted on the baby, played through Loeffler again, and headed down to the church for the concert.
The concert was MARVELOUS. A packed house - standing room only - and so many different inspiring performers in so many different genres. We had two choirs, an opera singer, a cabaret singer, a rock band, and a phenomenal baritone who delivered some stunning spirituals, in addition to our Loeffler Rhapsody. This concert - on paper - could have been a failed mishmash of logistics and moodswings - but in fact it was a glorious two and a half hour love fest. The energy in the room was amazing, and the audience was completely with the performers every step of the way. I don't know when I've performed to such rapt attention, and I do know that "l'Etang" is not the easiest or most accessible work to listen to. Not ugly, but certainly not "O, Mio Babbino Caro" or "La Vie en Rose". I don't know how much money was actually raised for the homeless, but I can't imagine how the event could have been more successful or better attended.
Also, and not irrelevantly - Zoe, my awesome three and a half month old baby, sat on my lap through the whole concert, watching the performers and dancing and cooing. Yes, she fell asleep a few times, and fed a couple of times - but never melted down, and was actually engaged and interested and cute whenever she was awake. She received a million compliments and I glowed and glowed.
This is why I do what I do. Performance is a high like no other, and a receptive audience and amazing colleagues and good friends on a perfect Chicago day all combined to make this a rare treat. And to have the baby with me all weekend and behaving like everyone's daydream of a good baby was an astonishing bonus. I can grind through day after day of teaching and making reeds and changing diapers and struggling to find time to practice if this is occasionally the payoff. I love my life.