Confronted with the prospect of a lighter schedule for the first two weeks of this month, my body resolutely decided to go on strike. Its strike was perfectly-timed: an autumn cold started on the day of our recital in Philadelphia, allowing me to perform the program reasonably unscathed. The very next day, the cold settled comfortably into my upper respiratory system, setting up house, redecorating all the various respiratory passageways, painting them a lovely shade of infected pink.
Being incapacitated and forced to sit still at home for 10 days straight, restless and needing to direct my stir crazy energy somewhere useful, on top of sitting at my piano plinking out pitches in an effort to cram this music into my head (without actually singing it) for this upcoming concert, I ended up doing a bit of redecorating myself - all I can say is that my closets have never been cleaner or more organized.
My body, apparently satisfied with the vacation terms it had negotiated, slowly resumed cooperating with me just in time to go back to work to sing Bach with the Alabama Symphony last week. Last week was a particular luxury, as I had the opportunity to work with all familiar faces and great friends. Singing Bach with these friends was one of those special musical moments when there is nothing but music and play for me in both rehearsal and performance. My duet partner for the Domine Deus (Kiera Duffy) and I barely had to utter words to each other in rehearsal - we just picked up on each other's musical instincts and responded spontaneously and effortlessly in sync with each other. It was great fun to both sing with and listen to these good friends sing some of my favorite music ever composed.
While we were in Birmingham, the subject of nerves and stage fright came up, and we all commiserated about how we all have to grapple with it (you can read my colleague, Jenny Rivera's take on our conversations at her blog, here). It's so easy for us to beat ourselves about feeling it - it somehow feels as if we aren't courageous or brave, and because of that we are somehow inadequate to the task at hand. The thing is, I really don't believe that bravery is the absence of fear - I think it's the power to accept our fears and take a leap despite them.
On the flight back to New York, thanks to the wonders of WiFi in the sky, I stumbled upon the video below by the actor, Edward Norton, discussing his experience with the terror associated with creativity and performance.
In a way, I feel that fear, while it feels like craziness, is actually sanity. Without it, something doesn't feel right to me, and there is an essential energy that is missing. The challenge is to accept it and not let it hold you back.
Anyway, I digress...mostly, I just was writing to check in and wish everyone in the US (and any Americans reading this abroad) a very Happy Thanksgiving. Fortuitously, I am actually free for the holiday weekend this year (last year involved a flight to Kansas City and a surprisingly good room service burger that I ate while watching Monster-In-Law). So, it will be nice to spend the day stuffing my face with turkey with family members for a change. Just another moment that I can add to the long list of things I have to be grateful for this year.
I leave with you a gratitude-ful song that was attributed to Handel for a long time sung by one of my favorite singers: