March Madness

February was one of the toughest months of my life to date.  It seems silly in retrospect to write about how upsetting it was to have my recital postponed, but it truly was hard.  I had put so much work into a weekend that didn’t happen.  Huge amounts of time, wasted.  And I’m not just being overdramatic!  If you think about it, I spent hours putting together logistics that were, in the end, never used.  So when I received the phone call from my teacher on Feb 9 confirming that we would, indeed, have to postpone my recital, I must admit that tears streamed down my face.  There was no use in trying to hide it.  I felt overwhelmed with the disappointment that my family spent money and time to come to a recital that wouldn’t happen; that they wouldn’t be able to come back for the real one; that the day I had been envisioning for a year would not happen as I had spent so much time planning; that the immense amounts of stress I had been feeling for the last few weeks would be prolonged and multiplied.  Through the darkness I was feeling, I sought a little bit of light.

Impromptu performance with half my choir at my reception

Impromptu performance with half my choir at my reception

We held the reception we had planned, even though the recital was cancelled.  It was a beautiful time, and around 50 friends trudged through 3 feet of snow to support me.  I have never felt so lifted up!  We ate, drank, and danced for hours, and when that was over, we went sledding.  I was incredibly thankful to share a bit of my grad school life with my family that evening.  They know all about me as a musician – hell, they formed that part of me! – but meeting my friends and colleagues in this program was a real gift.  Still, when I returned home that night, as the 90s music stopped and the warmth returned to my snow-numbed skin, I was filled with deep sadness.  Reality struck, and I knew the next few weeks would be difficult.

The next day, people kept asking when my recital was rescheduled for.  Ha!  That was the real nightmare.  When would the 40 musicians participating in my recital all be free to reschedule?  I went to work sending emails and doing the logistical stuff all over again.

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My teacher suggested that I may have to split the program into two different concerts to accomodate singers and players, but I was determined to find a date where we could do the program as a whole, as it was intended to be.  Magically, we found a date – March 3.  I had to replace 3 instrumentalists, and I lost 2 singers, but all in all, it worked out.  In the end, I felt like I had planned two recitals.

Finally, the big day arrived.  The weather was beautiful, and my brother was able to come up from Bridgeport and represent my family.  It felt like what I imagine a wedding day would feel like (though if it’s equally as stressful, I’m good to not get married for aWHILE).

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My housemate, Anna, assisted me all day – keeping me calm, going on a run with me, cooking for me, doing my hair, helping me get dressed, etc.  (I later wrote her a thank you card for being the maid of honor for my recital…seriously.)I thought I was going to have a heart attack most of the day, but when 3pm rolled around and I carefully stepped onto the podium (why did I wear such tall heels, Caleb?!), all fears subsided and I had a blast.  It was a fun hour of great music-making.  My singers and instrumentalists wowed me, and I simply got to stand in front of them and dance to the music they were making.  I’m a lucky girl.

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Speaking of being lucky, my recital day launched a whole string of fabulous opportunities this month.  The week following my recital, I traveled back and forth to NYC to rehearse and perform with the NY Philharmonic and Bach Collegium Japan under Maestro Masaaki Suzuki. Then it was Spring Break, of which I spent the first week at home, sick in my bed. Sounds awful, and I suppose it was, but I was again supported by loving friends (and teachers…Ms. Panetti brought me tilapia, yams, and broccoli!), and got a lot of much needed rest.  The second week of Spring Break, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador (as I over-advertised on Facebook…sorry…but I was really excited!).  I was asked to sing a couple gigs in Quito with a small group of 8 singers and 5 instrumentalists.  The director had no idea I had spent the previous summer in Quito and was itching to get back!  It was such a blessing to revisit my host family and teacher, and to show so many friends around a city I love.

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And now it’s back to school for the race to the finish line!  While there are many things I am going to miss about this experience, I must say that I cannot wait to reclaim parts of myself I feel that I have lost in the last two years.  I can’t wait to write more (blog/journal), create more art, cook more, exercise more, and spend more time catching up with friends.  I feel confident that these things will happen, mostly because they must.

There’s still a string of chores and blessings that lie between me and the finish line, including a group project on Ives’ Psalm 90, lots of studying Brahms, a 15-page paper on a topic I have yet to pick, a conducting masterclass in Switzerland, and a choir tour in Singapore and Japan.  Oh yeah, and finding a job.  Gotta remember that one.

I feel thankful for so many friends that make efforts to keep up with me even while I’m struggling to keep up with myself.  Sorry to be such an infrequent writer as of late, though rest assured…there are many thoughts I am longing to write!  Blessings to all as we enter Holy Week.  May it be a time of deep reflection in preparation for great joy!

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