The thing that impressed me the most was the absolute joy she projected every time she played. From the moment the piece started - even in the very first working rehearsal - with our excellent principal clarinet wailing up to the high note, she was listening, engaged, visibly enjoying what she heard. She reacted with obvious delight to what the orchestra gave her in the opening, and responded as soon as she started playing with some fun of her own. I have played Rhapsody in Blue dozens of times, and never heard it as fresh, playful, and rambunctious as it was this evening. She performed this 90 year old work as if she was making it up on the spot, and the orchestra responded with energetic glee of its own. The audience loved it, and brought her back for three curtain calls.
Sometimes we can get caught in the trap of going to work just so we can get done with work. To get to our dress rehearsal this morning I had to be up before 7, driving before 8. It would have been foolish and exhausting to travel home between services, so I spent all afternoon in a coffee shop working on my website. Pleasant and needful work, but no substitute for being at home with my family, you know?
I love the music of George Gershwin, as I have written before (HERE, for example.) But by the time the evening concert rolled around I was ready to leave Fort Wayne and have my life be my own again.
But the way Desalvo took over the stage and owned that piece made me forget how tired I was, and that work is work. Along with the entire audience I was completely in the moment, eager to hear what she'd do next and deeply enjoying the beautiful playing of my colleagues around me.
I managed to speak with her briefly at the stage door after the concert - bless her heart, she'd stayed in her gown for an extra hour and stuck around to greet patrons at the end. And standing in a strapless concerto dress outdoors at 9:30 in February in Indiana, she still managed to project total joy and gratitude for the experience we'd all shared.
I have a new idol. Thank you, Jodie DeSalvo, for reminding me what really matters, and for being just plain awesome.