con·tin·u·um /kənˈtɪnyuəm/ [kuhn-tin-yoo-uhm]
1.a continuous extent, series, or whole.
Well, what can I say for myself - I haven't been writing. The last seven weeks have been filled with activity, including lots of little concerts and the making of an audition recording. I have yet to go into the studio to begin recording Bach and Ysaye, but that is coming: the Paganini Caprices were of course put on hold to learn and record a NEW set of excerpts for the audition and the grant application process has come and gone. Oddly - and perhaps this is a sign of self-acceptance - I am finding it easier to "let go" when something is done, as well as to wait for the results and to humbly take any advice, comments or feedback that comes as the comments can indeed be a part of the growth process.
A few days ago I received two very wonderful notes from a violinist named Kimberlee Dray who currently lives in Minnesota. Kimberlee and I "met" in 2007 through violinist.com and while there was a small break in our communication I was thrilled to hear from her. She seems to be quite the fan/devotee of the late Albert Spalding who spoke these words:
"All the perseverance in the study of music, all the application devoted to it, is not worth a tinker's dam, unless accompanied by this awakening to the perception of beauty . . . The true student of Art should be able to derive benefit and instruction from every beautiful work of Art that he hears or sees; otherwise he will be limited by the technical and mental limitations of his own prejudices and jealousies."
Why this quote tonight? Well, today I gave an interview with Black Atticus, a Knoxville-based "wordsmith, song writer, die hard emcee, public speaker, and nationally ranked slam poet" whom I have had the pleasure of working alongside since coming to Knoxville in August of last year (more on that later). It must be said that I was a bit taken aback by the first question, which was "What is it like to be a black violinist" or something like that. This question has been asked numerous times, and during the course of our dialogue (which lasted for about thirty minutes) I found myself going through lfe experiences and realizing as I did when I was a child that it ain't that big of a deal, it's the path I chose. However, MY question is "WHY is this such an enigmatic phenomenon?"
More on THAT later - our conversation contained thoughts about music, relevance and the many conundrums that face artists in all genres. In the "defense" of those of us who have chosen to both study and pursue careers in classical music performance, I do have to say that we are, in addition to being a very "stylized" lot, some of the most aware people regarding the numerous performing and visual arts disciplines - yes, everything from Abstrat Expressionism to Spoken Word and Hip-Hop. Nevertheless, being wise to the ways of human nature, it is no surprise that everyone - including some of us who claim to be "worldly, sophisticated, et cetera ad nauseum" - can make assumptions about people based on surface situations.
Nevertheless, the time spent this afternoon reminded me that it is vitall important for ALL of us keep our "minds, souls and imaginations open", as well as to realize that despite the seeming differences in our crafts that we are all a part of a continuum larger than ourselves, one that stretches back centuries to the first time that man made sound and wondered how to recreate it - or figured out how to make the dye that was used in a cave painting...just like Mr. Spalding said. If I may, I must say that should we all think in this manner, the question of "relevance" could become obsolete - after all, Willem de Kooning did study classical draftsmanship before becoming an abstract expressionist painter...
Coming up next: hopefully some new music AND an interview with Robin Fay Massie-Jean, one of the founders of Musicians for Mercy, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that recently raised over $7,500 in two concerts from which the funds will be directed to Haitian earthquake relief efforts...and perhaps some more Paganini capricing? ;)
Until next time,