September 21, 2008

Traveling - and Inquisitive Children

Photographer Peter Lindbergh, in a 1998 interview during which he speaks about his life, says "I experience so many different sensations every day that it has become like a drug. Every day, something new happens to me." Of course, if one is open to life every day, this is most definitely true, but the statement speaks of a heightened reality - that of those who travel constantly for their work. While I am not comparing myself to Peter Lindbergh in terms of "career" - Lindbergh being a much in-demand and globally respected fashion photographer - I found myself agreeing with his statement on Friday, September 19, 2008 when, upon landing in the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport I heard cheering. Following my curiosity, I followed the sounds…and was delighted to chance upon a crowd standing at the international terminal cheering for our servicemen who were, on that day, coming home from Iraq.

How easy it is for all of us in these days of working, traveling, going to and fro – being focused solely on the “self” – to forget to stop and step out of ourselves for a moment. I was reminded of this on Thursday – concert day – when I went to visit an afterschool program at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. This was not a part of the “official schedule”: I was asked by the music professor at Kent State- Ashtabula. With the program that I was scheduled to play being the most formidable in my career to-date, I almost declined – is our natural tendency to hide away, somewhat panicked, as opposed to opening and sharing ourselves – but realized that I would, by being the guest, be recreating the many visits by members of the Charleston Symphony that I witnessed at the same age of many of the participants in the program, most of whom had not been truly “exposed” to classical music. With that, it would have also been incredibly selfish of me, with a day free save for playing a concert, to say “no” to a group of children who were slowly stepping into the waters just as I did at their age – just as many of us, perhaps?

So, I went...and I have to say that I was amazed at the level of inquisitiveness that I found in this group of children, aged nine to twelve, some of whom will be starting in a new strings program later in the school year! While I cannot remember all of the questions, it is safe to say that of course, children are always watching, always curious – and it is our responsibility to keep that sense of openness, not only for ourselves but also FOR them, particularly when we participate in “educational and community engagement” activities.

As far as the recital later that evening – well, I’m glad that I took the time out of myself and away from the music stand to answer some questions. Incidentally, while I am always evaluating my performances, I have to say that this one went well...despite my angst about performing an entirely new program as a season opener! In fact, there were many challenges with this one (scheduling, etc.) but they were all handled gracefully - all I can do is play well, right? - and it was such a joy to work with William Shaffer, a Cleveland-based pianist/organist who was by far one of the best duo partners that I have ever had!

More from the road,

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