Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Keeping Us On Our Toes

Myra warming up for our recital last Friday

After an entire year of slogging through airports alone, I slogged through the airport security for the umpteenth time on Thursday, only this time to be met by a very welcome sight after having all of my body and luggage scanned by strangers – Myra was sitting very calmly, reading her phone at the gate where our flight was to take off. She saw me and smiled as I sat down next to her, and we marveled at the fact that an entire year had passed since our last recital tour. About a half and hour later, our gate agent shuffled us on the plane, and we were off to our first recital of the 2011 – 2012 season, this one in the small town of Tryon, North Carolina.

Tryon is a beautiful little town nestled in the North Carolina Appalacian mountains, with a quaint little downtown filled with small, independently owned businesses (not a chain in sight!), and beautiful views of the tree-covered mountainsides that were just starting to turn from summer green to autumn red, orange and gold. We were excited to bring our Carnegie Hall Purcell/Britten program from last fall filled with so much beautiful music to this little town also filled with so much beauty.

Between our confident feelings about the program and the isolated, quiet nature of this adorable little town, we found ourselves almost feeling like were on a mini-vacation to the country. I turned to Myra at one point as we were warming up for the evening’s recital and said, “I almost feel too relaxed…this is really strange…”

After our warm-up in the hall, I went out to the lobby to get a program, when suddenly that very relaxed feeling evaporated into thin-air. I picked one up, only to discover that the presenters had not been able to print out our texts and translations in the program. I panicked - How will the audience know what these songs are about? How will they understand this music now?!

The omission turned out to be a bit of blessing in disguise – having toured the program last year and recorded it now, we both felt incredibly comfortable going into Tryon. Perhaps a bit too comfortable…Knowing that there were no translations for the audience to follow provided a bit of an edge to our concentration throughout the recital Friday. We were reminded with extra urgency that no musical nuance, no consonant, no vowel was to be taken for granted, and we felt an urgency to communicate each and every moment with the utmost clarity. It forced us to sharpen our message, and it forced us to refine our music-making. It forced us to stay on our toes.

I'm always grateful for the little reminders not to take anything for granted - It’s always a good thing to be kept on one’s toes, after all...

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