On Valentine's Day, I was pacing around my dressing room, cramming as much German into my mouth as possible, when Bob, the keyboardist for the Orchestra of St. Luke's, burst into my dressing room a flurry of energy and said, "Hey, Nick! It's great to see you! How've you been? Let's go through these recits…" He promptly sat down at the upright piano in my dressing room and started flipping through his score to find my first recitative. Before that, my conductor friend, Scott, had come down to see if I wanted to run anything before the concert with piano, which I did since I was so nervous. And then, right before the chorus was to go on stage, another friend of mine who happened to be in the chorus and was also named Scott came by to give me a big hug and wish me luck. Later, as the first half ended and we took some bows, I heard the cellist sitting behind me say, "Hi Nick! It's nice to see you…" I turned around and it was Myron, a colleague with whom I had given a concert of Purcell songs (along with Bob) 2 years ago. I smiled as he said, "Long time no see!" James Roe, who organized and played on that Purcell concert two years ago, was playing oboe in the Orchestra that night, as well, and during the intermission he stopped by and gave me a big hug.
When I arrived in St. Paul a few days later, I walked into the rehearsal room and saw a good friend from Marlboro, Maiya, sitting in her new position in the Viola section of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Before rehearsal began, we sat down and chatted, making plans to have a drink after the first concert. Later that evening, when the Chorus arrived to rehearse their numbers, I looked up and saw Eugene, a friend from my University of Michigan days who now teaches at Macalester College, singing with the basses and a colleague, Nicole, from my days at Manhattan School of music singing with the sopranos.
Last week was an incredible journey filled with unexpected excitement and the discovery that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. Because much of the excitement happened on the road, and because the concert at Carnegie happened at such short notice, when almost everyone important in my life was out of town or had other Valentine's Day plans, I couldn't help but feel a bit lonely when someone came by to ask if I had anyone for the backstage list that night and I answered, "No". But as the Carnegie evening and the week in St. Paul progressed, I realized how wonderfully close-knit our musical community can be. While there can be all of the drama and nasty competition that people think is there, there is also an incredible sense of camaraderie and support. People from almost every stage of my life popped up this week, and I came to the realization that through music, I am blessed with more friends than I ever imagined possible and am never really alone.