Saturday, April 26, 2008
Now, having that dust-covered, warm, slightly sweaty feeling from wandering aimlessly and baking under the San Diego sun, I'm off to get ready for number two. Tonight, the goal is to try enjoy more and count a little less obsessively.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
As I wrote in while singing Bach in Chicago, my relationship with my faith has been a constantly evolving one, and I have come to question it over the years, like I assume most people do. While I have always believed in a God, I question more and more the validity of the Bible being the word of God. I mostly take issue with how much focus there can be at times on the proscriptive and seemingly hateful passages in the Bible that seem to me to skew its larger message of faith, hope, and love. It seems to me that perhaps some human error seeped into it over the years. I’ve also come to question the idea of man’s unworthiness in the Bible – why shouldn’t we be worthy of God’s love? We are theoretically all God’s children, are we not? All parents’ love should be unconditional, and certainly God would be the one being capable of such greatness.
Daniel’s setting of this story begins with Shadrach leading a prayer of penitence, assuming responsibility for the sack of Judah and pleading for God’s mercy. He acknowledges that the wayward ways of the Jews were the cause of their current plight as they brought the wrath of God upon them.
As I set to learning this music, I had trouble reconciling myself to embracing this idea of a wrathful God – my emotional walls were instantly up, and I felt myself detaching from the piece. I wondered how I was going to find a way to commit to Shadrach and his logic. I judged Shadrach for being so misguided in believing that he and his people were only worthy of such incredible misfortune. I don’t believe that a performer can do proper justice to their character if they are judging them in anyway. Performing anything demands the utmost empathy and compassion.
This morning, after having struggled with this for weeks, I suddenly realized that Shadrach was not misguided at all, but actually wise and inspiring. Shadrach and his companions share my belief that God’s love for us is unconditional. He acknowledges what he feels are the mistakes of his people, and his wisdom is in seeing that the only way to move on is to learn from those mistakes with a humble heart. He does not in fact believe that he and his people are unworthy of God’s love, but are worthy of not only God’s love but God’s protection and mercy, as well. That he can maintain such faith that he is willing to risk his life by walking through fire after having endured the hardships of watching his homeland be conquered and then being held captive in a foreign land is inspiring. I would think that a lesser person would question the very existence of God after suffering hardships such as those.
We struggle with our faith in many things, not just God, and I found myself wondering this morning, if I maintained such faith in not only the good in the world, but also in myself during the times that are tough, what miracles could I accomplish? Every step would be a positive step forward, and I would never feel as if I had taken any steps back. I marveled that I was able to extrapolate a lesson from this Old Testament story. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what I believe when it comes to the Bible – lessons that apply to so many different aspects of our lives can be gleaned from its parables and stories, regardless.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Standing under the bright lights of the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater was an incredible rush yesterday. As we started the concert, the incredulous artist child inside me leapt to the forefront of my mind momentarily, and I thought, what am I doing here? A little patriotic murmur beat through my heart, and I firmly decided to enjoy every minute of my little debut and do my best to contribute to the human spirit.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
A bittersweet day today, as I put my aunt in a taxi to the airport after an incredible visit and then said goodbye yet again to Jeremy and headed to Penn Station to journey to our nation’s capitol, my first stop this week. It is bitter to say goodbye, but sweet to think onwards to visiting with a close, childhood friend who is like a sister I never had in Washington, D.C., singing at the Kennedy Center and then the excitement and adventure of unveiling a world premiere in San Diego.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
A thought occurred to me: The more we grasp for what we want, that which we already have slips more and more through our fingers.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
- Brunch at Community Food and Juice (I've fallen in love with this place)
- Accidentally burning my arm on the iron
- Coaching The Fiery Furnace for an hour
- Cleaning the Kitchen
- Cleaning the living room
- Running the robotic vaccuum, Gus
- Organizing the music on the piano
- Cleaning the bathroom
And then the family visitor arrived.
"Don't do that!" a voice inside my head screamed as I began a gesture with my arm, "People will think that you aren't being genuine."
"That wasn't so pretty - you really can make more beautiful sounds that that."
The inner dialogue between neuroses continued as I navigated my way through the first song. Nightmarish visions of forgetting the words flew through my mind. I struggled to focus on what was at hand and stay in the text and in the present moment. I tried to base myself in reality.
The song was over. I left the stage to relax before my next set of songs. I realized that my inner critic was out of control and needed to be stopped. I listened to my colleagues sing this incredible, deep, intense Russian music, and remembered that I had a job to do, which was to share this music with the audience and offer myself in service not only to them but the music itself.
I walked out to sing again, found the reality of the song, and suddenly the unimportant surreality of the voices in my head wasn't such a distraction anymore.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Lots of jerky starts and stops later, the clock read 1:11, I was throwing a wad of cash at the driver and sprinting down the street to the stage door. The elevator ride up to Weill felt like it lasted an eon. I bounded out of the elevator and glanced at the clock. 1:13. Enough time to drink water, throw my stuff in a dressing room, and run to the stage.
Rehearsal started. I still had that rushed feeling. That irritation that is seemingly caused by the nuisance of everyone seemingly being in the way, when in reality one is annoyed with oneself for being late in the first place. I had the burning urgency of needing to just get to the next event coursing through my veins, impatience radiating out of me at like an aura of crackling electricity. Then it dawned on me - I am where I need to be. I can relax now. I eased into the flow of rehearsal, and decided with conviction that I will be on time for our performance call time tomorrow.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
After the purge of morning pages, I flushed my sinuses and did some yoga, my neck, shoulders, calves, and hips screaming in agony as I tried to stretch them out and get blood flowing through them. I vowed to get a massage by the end of the day. I fried an egg , toasted an english muffin, and, annoyed that we were out of fruit, checked email while I ate. After ironing my shirt and making sure my suit wasn't too wrinkled after being neglected in a suitcase, I began to warm up as I got dressed and then rushed off to my audition.
Hopping out of my taxi, I saw that the sun was struggling to win it's battle with the clouds and ducked into the building where my audition was. A soprano was warming up, the Queen of the Night's high notes bouncing off the marble walls of the women's bathroom. I sat with my manager's assistant, and we discussed how the recital went on Sunday. Jeremy arrived from playing another audition elsewhere, and then the appointed hour arrived. We climbed the stairs up to the ballroom, introduced ourselves and began to sing. Two arias later, a couple of questions were asked, some compliments given, we said our goodbyes, and the waiting game began.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Five minutes later, the second alarm exploded, imploring us to get out of bed and catch our plane home.
We made ourselves presentable for travel and staggered to the airport shuttle, which whisked us to the airport in a timely fashion. Security was surprisingly not much of a headache, and we breezed to our gate where we boarded the homeward-bound plane. Ensconced in our seats, I envied Jeremy as he proceeded to fall back into a peaceful sleep, as if his slumber had never even been disturbed. I decided to cleanse my conscience by doing my morning pages, and then reached down and pulled out the green notebook that contains the music for New York Festival of Song's concerts next week. The Oklahoma airport shrinking to a series of dots as we ascended, I proceeded to continue my efforts to wrap my mind in the Russian and French songs that are Steve's gifts for me to enjoy discovering over the coming days.
We landed a couple minutes early, Jeremy ran off to play an audition for someone, and I took our suitcases home. I pulled out the yoga mat and made an effort to get my body warmed up, nibbled on a sandwich, sat at the piano to review the songs one more time, and then traipsed off to Steve's to rehearse our musical journey through Russia and France and all that connects them.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Suddenly, it was over, our encore finished, Jeremy and I taking our final bows. It felt like a good performance. For a first run, it felt miraculously incredible. Our focus was intense, our hearts expressive. There were some things that we would like to fix, but that is the magic of live performance. It is perfectly human in it's imperfection and must be left behind. Until the next time.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
The puddle-jumper door closed and the flight attendant informed us in a tired, canned monotone that it was time for us to shut off our cell phones. The moisture was immediately sucked out of my nostrils now that we had been sealed into the tiny cylindrical body of the plane. I noticed that I was in an infinitely better mood than I often am when I have to fly, and then I looked over and realized how much more pleasant it is to travel with Jeremy in tow, as opposed to leaving him behind in our haven on the Upper West Side.
Looking over at this sweet, generous, loving man that I share my life with, I felt our impending first recital together looming in the back of my head like a child screaming for attention. Ignore the recital-child, and he will create problems when they are least expected. Devote a little thought to him, and there is a greater chance that a crisis will be averted. I dutifully and a little grudgingly pulled out a sheet of paper and a pencil to write out the texts of the songs that comprise our program. My immediate thought as I began writing was to admonish myself for not having done this simple exercise sooner. Somehow, a gentle and forgiving voice managed to find its way to the forefront of my mind, reminding me that I had been planning on having another month before putting this program up in public. As the plane took off, I regurgitated each poem onto the page through my pencil, and my anxiety about remembering each word and entrance slowly transformed itself into excitement for this unexpected opportunity to perform tomorrow.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
On top of this more musical focus, there is the incredible music of Bach. I found the energy of performing this masterwork to be different from other performances. Part of this is the story, of course, but I was also keenly aware of how great the music is. It is pristine, clear, meditative and yet passionate and expressive – so human and so divine. I wanted to perform well not to feel good about myself and my work, but because I felt that Bach’s music demanded it of me. I felt that it was a privilege to sing, and I ended up coming to the stage from a place of humility. It was a great relief, and I felt like it was a form of spiritual spring cleaning in a way. I certainly feel fresher and more ready to work now that I am back at home.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I'm not sure what my deal is - a lot of the time I never even think to go on one. But today, I reluctantly did it. I went to a movie all by myself at the Tribeca Cinemas (Shelter, in case you are curious). Even as I approached the box office to buy my ticket, I nearly turned around and went home. I felt a little giddy, like I was going on a first date with someone. I was even almost late for the movie - I almost showed up late for a date with myself. What kind of way is that to treat anyone, let alone yourself?
I really enjoyed the movie, and I was surprised how good I felt as I made my way home. I felt lighter, skipping to the station to catch the subway, my head in a dreamy state. It felt good to treat myself to a movie that I had been wanting to see. Going to movies by myself is one of my favorite solitary activities to do, actually, and I found myself wondering why I don't do it more often. Perhaps I will now. Perhaps this relationship with my artist is going somewhere wonderful.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Another drainful experience on United today - my flight was canceled again, and what should have been a straightforward, easy trip home became a long sojourn at the airport. A friend pointed out to me that perhaps my "touched" relationship with United is brought on by my own negative thinking every time I need to fly them. Perhaps she's right...I'm sure The Secret would tell me so.
Happily, the sun was shining when I landed back in NYC, which brightened my spirits considerably.
Either way, I am happy to be back in my own bed, thinking about what a great experience I had this weekend.
I had an even better time tonight, having one performance under my belt. I love singing Bach, and I want to sing more. Thankfully, I get to sing more in a few weeks in LA. Still, this experience is leaving me hungry for more and more Bach. So, here I am sending that energy out into the cosmos.
Off to pack and try to get a few hours of sleep so I'm not too much of a disaster tomorrow.