Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Last Wednesday, after our train pulled into Washington, DC, and before the unfortunate drama of our poor soprano partner-in-crime falling ill, I was to meet one of my best friends in the world for lunch. I called to tell her that I was making my way from Union Station to our rendez-vous point in Dupont Circle, and she told me not to rush, because something had come up at her office and she was going to be a little late. Her delay turned out to be fortuitous, allowing me time to enjoy an afternoon of sunshine before the first blizzard of the week befell the east coast and take a leisurely walk down to 15th and P streets where I could attend to an errand that I needed to take care of before I left DC – pick up a score that I needed for an audition that I had with a conductor the following week.

I was relieved to find that Musical Source was where I remembered, and that my memory had not failed me. I descended the few steps to the front door and walked in to the spacious store, filled with shelves and shelves of music, classical music softly playing on the radio. I breathed a sigh, enjoying being in this store that was designed for browsing and discovery. One of the people who worked there asked me if he could help me with anything. I told him what I was looking for, and he then directed me to a stack near the near the front of the store. I then checked the time on my phone and decided I had time to dawdle.

I walked over to the shelves that housed a lot of the music for voice and discovered a treasure trove of vocal chamber music. I perused scores for voice and harp, voice and flute and piano, new editions of Telemann cantatas, and Beethoven Scottish songs, my mind humming with new ideas. I found countless things I had never even heard of, fascinated to discover what all of this music was like, and I started concocting schemes to explore all of it and, perhaps, to program some of it. It felt electric and exciting. I took a stack of things that I thought looked good and interesting to the cash register along with my Beethoven score and paid. I had come in looking for one thing, and I left having spent well over a hundred dollars more than I had intended to and with a much heavier suitcase than I expected to lug home on Friday.

Once upon a time, we had places like this in New York, but alas, no more. As I (very happily) paid the man who worked at the store, I told him that I hoped that Musical Source would be around for a long time to come. I would never have even thought to look for any of the things I bought – I only bought them because I discovered them purely accidentally and could open the scores and peek inside to see if any of it looked palatable or interesting. As I left the store and headed back to Dupont Circle to meet my friend, I felt a bit wistful, sad that the only resource left to me at home, shopping online, will never feed me that same rush that I felt in the store that afternoon.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A Little Improvisation

So, my thirty day project has sort of fallen flat on its face since I got back to the States. I'm a little disappointed, but not surprised, as I always find it difficult to keep writing when I back home in the States. There is something about being in Europe – perhaps it's foreignness and the isolation that entails – that makes writing easier. Part of it has also been as issue of time. I've found it hard to carve out the time for the blog with these past two weeks' intense schedule. One special treat about this tour has been that I have been travelling with friends – something very special for me, being so accustomed to travelling alone all the time. We have shared countless laughs on this trip, and on top of our packed schedule of travel, rehearsal, and performances, I've found I've wanted to spend many of my free moments catching up with these friends from my Marlboro family and enjoying the company.

Wednesday evening, after arriving in Washington, DC, I was getting ready for a reunion with my 6th grade best friend, when I received a text message with some sad news – my duet partner for the tour was letting us know that she was ill and would not be able to complete the rest of the tour. Wishing her a speedy recovery, we immediately went into crisis mode, trying to figure out how to make the show go on. After a variety of options were explored, it was decided that Lydia and I would replace the two sets of duets with two sets of solo lieder. Thursday was a flurry of scrambling to find rehearsal space and then rehearsing these new pieces, with barely enough time to iron my shirt for the concert. Before we knew it, it was time for the concert, and I found myself explaining the unfortunate circumstances and announcing the program change to our very understanding DC audience.

The last two concerts and days have been a blur, as I put my blinders on, shutting out the noise of my nerves about having so little rehearsal for such nuanced music as much as possible and narrowing my focus towards giving everything I have to putting on a good performance for the lovely people who have been filling these halls to see us and support Marlboro.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Marlboro Tour, Part I and II

On Saturday, the weather in New York took a nose dive into frigid temperatures, inducing me to set roots into my couch as I channel surfed all day on Saturday. By the time pre-concert-prep time rolled around, I found myself unwilling to uproot myself and brave the cold to journey down to Union Square for the first concert of our tour. It took me a while to get warmed up and energized, but once I saw the other, string-playing half of our touring company, I found myself both warmed and charged by our happy reunion. Assuming that the rest of New York City felt as I had all day, I was pleasantly surprised to see a completely packed theater filled with eager listeners on Saturday night.

The trip to Greenwich the next day was an easy, laugh-filled train ride away from the city. After our second concert, we were whisked off to a reception hosted by one of the donors to Marlboro, where we ate delicious food and sipped on exquisite wine. Our host asked us to speak a little about Marlboro to the group, and I found myself gushing about how special it is to me and how it revolutionized my relationship with music, helping me reconnect with my passion for music, reminding me why I fell in love with it. Unexpectedly, I found myself surprised as my voice almost broke with the amount of emotion that I was suddenly feeling, and I was reminded just how much of a treat these two weeks are for me.