Skip to main content

From One Extreme to Another

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.

Comments

  1. Good for you! what a blessed life.
    From the other shore, I can only say, I had it once.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Shaq and the Oboe

Here’s my FAVORITE thing about that Shaquille O'Neal video everyone's sharing this week - it’s how HAPPY he is playing this silly game and how little he CARES what the oboe actually SOUNDS LIKE or how to play it. 
Almost as if the oboe is not a giant obstacle to overcome.

Instead of focusing on the CRAFT of the instrument, the precise fingerings, the quality of the sound, the finesse of the vibrato - his focus is on DELIVERING the SONG.   It’s on COMMUNICATION, not perfection.


What a LIBERATING concept!


When I am playing my best, I find that I can surpass the STRUGGLE and come to a place where my focus is on communication.   I can sing through the instrument, and I can use that voice to reach out and find someone else.  This is really what being In the Zone means for me - it's when I don’t have to engage with the OBOE and instead can be generous with my VOICE for the audience.


I seek and strive for this Zone all the time - it’s the whole point of practicing! I practice long…

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We took a vacation this summer.This is not news to anyone in my life - anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures.We took our travel trailer out to Arizona - via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe - and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon.We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams.We hiked.Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out).After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones.In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one - maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For …