March 15, 2009

Flying Home

This is being written from Knoxville, Tennessee at 4:03am Eastern Standard Time. I find myself feeling fortunate as I prepare for this trip back to the Hudson Valley, as I again found myself in the midst of a travel snafu - the second one this month. The last one found me in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for thirteen hours, that being followed by spending the night in the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

THIS one, however, turned out much differently - after being bumped from an overbooked flight I was treated with such amazing service by Northwest Airlines, service including a rerouting into Newark International Airport and a hotel voucher. Considering that I was in awe of the view of the Tennessee River upon flying in and some amazing fog on the mountaintops later in the week, perhaps this was the perfect ending to what was a very intense yet fulfilling short trip.

The past 2 1/2 months have been full: while working on many other projects (including recording), I played with the Tulsa Opera in February and went home for a week before flying here for our tenth performance of Between A Ballad and a Blues. What can I say about this last performance? There were many wonderful things, and I was reminded of WHY live theatre is what it is: while we do aim for consistency as performers, Constantin Stanislavski does remind us how to keep those performances ALIVE through the techniques he espouses in the book An Actor Prepares.

Should you get an opportunity to see this production in the future, please do so. I say that not because I'm in both the band and the cast (the latter as Blind Roland Martin, complete with sunglasses while walking across a stage playing fiddle tunes), but because of the level of commitment and authenticity brought to the stage by my colleagues - particularly Linda Upton Hill, Kelle Jolle, Starr Releford, Brandon Bell and Bert Tanner.

For this performance - one that took place in LaFollette, Tennessee (the home of Howard Armstrong) - we had the most amazing sound engineers! Talk about perspective expanding! There have been many times during the past four years that I have found myself looking out with a new perspective...this time, I had to pause. Here I am, ten years after having received the Master of Music degree from one of these conservatories, and I come across two guys who simply say "We just want to do the best job that we can for this show", who find such pride in their work and the equipment that they used (much of which - all of which - I cannot remember, but WHAT a great system!), and never showed the signs of being tired, frustrated, or dissatisfied. Refreshing, no?

Tomorrow - well, in just a few hours, I fly home...but once again find myself feeling humbled and grateful to have shared in creation, and I sincerely hope that I can keep that perspective in the days and years to come.

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