May 30, 2012

"The right road barely speaks..."

It is somewhat odd to me that I'm writing at this moment in time, as I should be asleep.   Yes, the itinerant fiddler has just come home once again, this time from participating in a fantastic performance of Scott Joplin's "Treemonisha" with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale in Toronto.

Koerner Hall - one of the three performance spaces at the TELUS Center for Performance and Learning of Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, is by far the most spectacular hall in which I have performed to date, and it was a true pleasure to have this opportunity, which came in a way that was totally unexpected while also synchronous with a life philosophy that I have observed in action:   "the right road is not as obvious, it whispers rather than shouts - but when we follow it, our way unfolds smoothly and serenely, and we end with a deep, almost spiritual satisfaction, a feeling that we've fulfilled our task or destiny."

This was my third trip to Toronto, the first having taken place in 2008 when, at the invitation of a friend, I performed as a member of the Classical Music Consort.    It was during that visit - one sandwiched between the opening of Carpetbag Theatre's "Between A Ballad and a Blues" and solo performances of both Mozart's Fourth Violin Concerto and Saint-Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso - that my deep admiration for "Canadian" string playing resurfaced (there were quite a few Canadians studying at Rice University at the same time as I, including Marie-Andre Chevrette of the Montreal Symphony), and that I was also advised to attend the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (which I did the following summer).  

It was also during that first visit that I met Tanya Charles, violinist of the Gould String Quartet and one of Toronto's most versatile, committed, and in-demand violinists.    While opportunities to spend time with Tanya were somewhat limited during the first two visits (and particularly the second, as the
TBSI schedule is an intense one), we have kept in touch over the years and shared stories of our individual progress and - of course - lives.    As a "side note", it must be said here that while social networking sites may result in a deeper isolation and the eschewing of relationships in real time, I am deeply grateful for having had these years to keep in touch with a woman who has become a dear friend as well as a formidable violinist and musician.  

Tanya is also a woman very focused on her craft and responsibilities:   in addition to being one of the finest colleagues that I have ever had, one does notice that she is very focused on her life and her craft, keeping herself somewhat distanced from the "camaderie" that one can experience in any freelance admirable characteristic considering that we do seem to be told that it is important to "network" at all times (an activity that can result in one finding one's self in direct opposition with one's inner imperatives and values).

Earlier this month (as I was enjoying the luxury of having a clear schedule so that I could practice in earnest for an upcoming recital), I received an email from Tanya:   "Sam!   Come to Toronto!"   Much discussion took place, and after a few days of changing schedules on this end I was able to say one week after having played as a member of two orchestras in two different cities I boarded an express bus...

Toronto is an incredible city, one going through many transitions as all "world cities" are - now a combination of older architecture and gleaming glass highrise condominiums, Toronto is a city in which one really sees "the world" as it is inhabited by people from almost every nation.   The sense of "smallness" that I felt there is one that I have only felt either in large cities like Miami or New York City or in a place that was truly unfamiliar (Padua/Venice, Italy).    Again, the string playing was excellent - Tanya served as concertmaster of the twelve-member ensemble and her years of string quartet playing have resulted in her now embodying the security, elegance, and technical assurance that is hallmark of all great leaders - and the singing from both the chorus and soloists (many of the latter were at one time members of the Chorale) truly excellent.  

I do wish that there had been more time to spend both in the city and with this new group of friends and colleagues; however, after the performance I immediately went to the Coach Bus Terminal and boarded the express bus home....while we can only hope and plan for good things in the future, it was a real pleasure to visit the city, experience more of the musicmaking that takes place there, and....

...and now I am home, looking forward to my seventh season as a violinist with the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, refreshed and convinced not only that our true path is to focus on our work and seize opportunities at the right moment, but also that the opportunities that may be the most fulfilling may not be those that scream the loudest....

More soon...

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