Making Lists

In the spirit of making lists, it only seems fitting to start with a table of contents for this post:

  • summary of my graduation
  • pieces I’d like to conduct one day
  • weird/interesting things I learned on tour to Japan/Singapore
  • places I’d like to travel next
  • what’s next for me?
  • things I’d like to do this summer

I graduated from my Masters degree at Yale University on May 20.  My sister, sharing in the joy of the day from afar, sent me this video to say congratulations.  It’s one of my favorite pieces, but it’s also a bit of an inside joke for us:

A few years ago, Erin and I did a road trip across the Pacific Northwest, stopping at many National Parks along the way.  Each day, one of us would put on a piece of music (often classical) that felt befitting to the day, and we would read aloud facts from our tour guide as we drove on.  The day we climbed the mountain towards Crater Lake, Oregon, I had a feeling that “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations would build the perfect musical-emotional climax, paired with the rewarding view that was about to appear before our eyes.  Well, I misjudged the length of the song vs. the length of our car ride and ended up playing “Nimrod” nine times in a row before finally, just as Elgar’s slow crescendo reached its height, the clear blue lake came into view.  Erin and I were captivated by the moment, falling silent.  We looked at each other and both had tears of joy streaming down our faces.  And then we laughed and laughed.

8761278370_5bac7a6eb0_zI tell this old story because it’s a bit of a parallel to what I felt finishing grad school.  I have told a few close friends that graduating from Yale was my biggest achievement – not necessarily my most important achievement, but certainly my biggest one thus far.  The past two years have been straight up TOUGH – physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually.  After three years of work at Luther Place, I could not have asked for a more different experience.  Don’t get me wrong: it has been a wonderful experience.  I have made some of my dearest friends and grown immensely as a musician.  But it was a tough journey straight up the mountain towards the final beautiful goal.  Just like the road up to Crater Lake, I kept assuring myself I was almost there, pressing repeat yet another time and waiting for the finale to line up perfectly.  How wonderful it was to celebrate at the finish line with my dad, brother, and sister-in-law on graduation day!  Once again, I was overwhelmed with tears of joy and lots of laughter.

As you can imagine, I’ve been doing lots of reflecting and lots of list-making as I move forward.  One of those lists was inspired by my teacher, Maggie, who recently asked me what pieces I’d like to conduct one day.  I felt chained by the freedom of that question.  I’ve conducted so little repertoire that my list of favorite pieces feels infinite!  But the question stuck with me, and I decided it would be a good practice for me to begin writing things down.  This is what I’ve come up with (listed in the order in which I thought of them):

PIECES I’D LIKE TO CONDUCT

  • Elgar, Enigma Variations
  • Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherezade
  • Martin, Mass
  • Poulenc, Mass in G
  • Vaughan Williams, Mass in G
  • MacMillan, Seven Last Words
  • Bach, St. Matthew Passion
  • Brahms, Requiem
  • Stravinsky, Rite of Spring
  • Maantyjaarvi, Canticum Calamitatum
  • Bach, Jesu meine Freude
  • Beethoven, Eroica (Symph 3)
  • Orff, Carmina Burana
  • Monteverdi, Vespers
  • Ives, Psalm 90
  • Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue
  • Holst, The Planets
  • Parry, Lord, Let Me Know Mine End
  • Vierne, Mass
  • Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals
  • Bach, Mass in B Minor

9059780590_b51c24a119_zThe final piece listed, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, is a new love of mine.  I recently sang it for the first time, having the opportunity to tour Japan and Singapore with Yale’s Schola Cantorum (a 27-voice choir) and Juilliard 415 (a baroque orchestra) under the direction of Masaaki Suzuki just after graduation.  It was a fantastic tour, and while it’s hard to tell of the experience in just a few words (or even a thousand pictures), I’ve made an attempt at another list:

WEIRD/INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT JAPAN/SINGAPORE

Japan:

  • toilet seats are often heated, and there are usually buttons to press to make courtesy sounds (or even automated courtesy sounds) to cover up any other embarrassing bathroom sounds which might occur
  • they drive on the left side of the road and stand on the left side of the escalator
  • audiences are super silent but clap FOREVER at the end
  • beef is a rarity and therefore quite expensive
  • it is etiquette to never pour alcohol for yourself, but rather, always pay attention to your friends’ glasses and fill them up!
  • when taking a picture of a group, instead of the cameraperson saying, “Say CHEESE!… CHEESE!”, they say (in Japanese), “One plus one equals… TWO!”
  • if the floor into a restaurant or house, etc, is raised, you must take off your shoes upon entering (even in school, students wear slippers!)
  • since there aren’t churches, universities often have beautiful performing spaces with incredible organs
  • not many people speak English – one Japanese girl my age said she thinks it’s because they are taught in school from the very beginning to sit still and be quiet…even in their English classes, which are primarily lecture-based
  • Japanese McDonalds has the largest box of french fries I’ve ever seen

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Singapore

  • coolest architecture I have EVER seen
  • least amount of poor people I have ever seen
  • Singapore only has one farm, and its purpose is to show students what a farm is
  • they eat chili stingray (YUMMY)
  • flight attendants on Singapore Airlines wear beautiful outfits
  • everyone eats at “food courts” (way cooler than American food courts)
  • it is illegal to sell gum in Singapore
  • if you get caught drug trafficking, you will be put to death
  • their shopping mall has a river running through it which you can canoe in
  • at any given time, over 800 ships are waiting to dock to import/export goods
  • Yale College is opening up a campus in Singapore this fall (where my sister-in-law’s brother will be teaching Psychology!)

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While on tour, I couldn’t help but make yet another list.  This time, my roommate and I got the travel bug and started dreaming of where we wanted to go next (in no particular order):

PLACES I’D LIKE TO TRAVEL

Domestic:

  • New Orleans
  • Boundary Waters
  • Hawaii
  • Austin, TX
  • Holden Village

International:

  • England
  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • Norway
  • New Zealand

Traveling remains exotic because of its contrast to returning home.  So alas, after 2 weeks in Japan and Singapore, I came home.  The infamous question is: what now?  I don’t know yet.  I’m applying to jobs and trying to listen for where I’m being called.  My lease runs out at the end of July, and at that point, I’ll need to make a real decision, whether that means staying in New Haven until I find something else or returning home to Hickory for a time.  For now, I’m trying to enjoy what may be my final days in New Haven and final moments with friends.  I’m doing occasional work at the Institute of Sacred Music (some of which will probably inspire my next blog post) and am gigging here and there to make ends meet.  I’ve made one final list for any remaining free time in order to remind myself of things I love and new things I’d love to take on:

THINGS I’D LIKE TO DO THIS SUMMER

I made a Suzuki stencil!

  • percussion lessons
  • sax lessons
  • dance lessons
  • make art
  • study Beethoven symphonies
  • spanish lessons
  • exercise
  • cook
  • visit beautiful places in New England
  • learn how to sew
  • work on my websites
  • write poetry
  • go horseback riding
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