About Life in Flow:Flow in Life

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Moving forward fearlessly

Last month we went to IU to visit our daughter and learned that we are now known as the parents who went to Fearless Camp. As in, "Oh, YOU'RE the parents who went to Fearless camp!" Both of us thought it was pretty funny.

Moving on fearlessly, last weekend I performed Auf dem Strom again -- twice! The Waukegan Symphony held its annual chamber music concert and I asked Henry Pleas and Helen Raymaker if they would be interested in playing ADS again. Both of them were delighted, which made me very happy, too. Henry was able to get us on another concert the next day, given by the Chicago Music Association at the South Shore Cultural Center.

 The Waukegan Chamber Players concert was held in a small church, very pretty with nice acoustics. I felt much more confident about the Schubert this time. Rehearsals had gone well and I had my Inspiration sheet and sticky notes in place. As always, I learned a lot from performing. Overall, it was a good performance -- musical, in sync ensemble-wise, and fun. I learned that I allowed myself to get distracted instead of concentrating of music-making, thinking about when I was going to turn the page, that water was gurgling in my horn and maybe I should break down and get a water key installed, and so on. Things went best when my full attention was on making music with Henry and Helen -- we were in sync, listening to each other and telling our story!

The horn section of the Waukegan Symphony also participated in the Waukegan concert, playing the Hindemith Quartet and Frippery #20. The Hindemith required full attention all the time. The rhythms were so complex that if you stopped thinking and counting, even briefly, you were lost. We stayed together very well and I think we gave an enjoyable rendering. Our principal horn, Nancy Orbison, talked to the audience about the piece before we performed it, and played some of the themes on the piano, which was helpful for listeners. 

I went home pleased, but wanting to be more focused during performances.  I had another chance to try the very next day. This recital was in a large hall in a beautiful old, restored building right on Lake Michigan (7000 south, for Chicagoans). The recital was sponsored by the Chicago Music Association,  a group founded in 1919 to provide opportunities for Black musicians to perform. The program was made up of soloists, both singers and instrumentalists, and a choir. The musicians included adults and children. I was only able to stay for the first half, but I was sorry to leave because everything I heard was excellent.

We played first. I was focused, thinking about the story we were telling, of the young man saying good-bye to his love as he leaves on the river. Through all the changes of mood in the song, you can clearly hear the river flowing along. I was not nervous. I felt not just confident, but that I was inside the music. This was our best performance of the piece, I thought, and Helen and Henry spontaneously agreed.  Click here to hear that performance.

Speaking fearlessly, the things from Camp that helped me were the positive thinking, inspiration sheets, and segue notes (on sticky pads), plus the technical aspects we also worked on at camp -- timing, tonguing, projecting. Once I realized I was letting my focus wander and started to correct that, too, things really came together and I felt that I made a leap into better music-making.

Having left horn playing and then come back to it years later, I had never expected to have a chance to play Auf dem Strom. I was thrilled to play in last year at the Schubertiade. I thought that would be the last time I played it. When the two concerts this past weekend appeared, I thought, "Bonus!" And now it appears that we will be able to perform it again on a joint chamber music recital. 'Tis the time of year to be thankful, and I am!