Hello... from interesting times.
The picture you're seeing is the view right in front of me as I write. My two lovely cats cuddling with each other - they've now moved on to some extreme grooming. One grabs the other's head with its paws as an invitation, the other gets right in there with that raspy tongue and starts to work. I've been spending the last few days in their company pretty much all of the time. At times I also feel like I'm a cat; lethargic at moments, adrenaline-filled at others. Predictably, it seems to have a lot to do with the news cycle.
We're all resting at home now; the hatches are battened, and it feels like we're just waiting, with as much hope as we can muster. Like every musician, my immediate employment was canceled days ago, and now I'm using the time to re-think, re-organize (there is still so much to do) and try to strike the right balance between apprehension and preparedness. It's been incredibly heart-warming to see communities springing up online in conjunction with the new reality. So many folks are there for each other in so many different ways, and all of those efforts are really just getting started.
Yesterday night, I went for a walk on Metropolitan Hill in Roslindale. Once you get up the hill, you can look out and see the city glistening in the distance like a tiny, multifaceted jewel. The night was calm and clear and quiet; the silence was shared. And the inestimable value of that jewel, the thousands and thousands of unique lives that illuminated it, was impossible to miss. It felt like all around me a slow hibernation was in process; folks drawing their doors shut one by one to protect themselves and especially each other.
I found myself thinking, again, about the A Far Cry program that was supposed to go up on Friday night. I'd started dreaming up this program years ago and it had finally come to fruition - well, almost. I'd fallen in love with Respighi's incandescent "Il Tramonto" - a work for mezzo and string quartet based on a Shelley poem that follows a loving couple through tragedy and a long grief that follows. I'd never heard a composer explore that space before and Respighi just made it impossible to turn away. So, I thought - maybe run with this, and make a program that follows this arc all the way. I started with the tragedy of Tramonto and followed it with the darkness of Lutoslawski's "Musique Funebre." The idea was to head into intermission wrestling with that darkness.
After we returned to the stage, it would be time for a change. The next work was going to be a short one by Thomas Tallis: "O Sacrum Convivium" - and from there, to transition into Vaughan Williams' infinitely comforting, transcendent, "Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis." We'd emerge from the long night into a more complete understanding, a more compassionate vision, and see the first rays of the sunrise.
Man, nerd that I was and still am, I used to love putting the Tallis Fantasia on my Walkman back in high school (the mid-90s!) and walk down the busy hallways between classes listening to it. It felt equal parts ecstatic and illicit. There's something about the piece that embraces whatever your present reality is and deepens it. A little bit of extra vision.
Well, Friday has come and gone, and instead of moving forward with that sweet sound in our ears, instead it feels like we're entering the long night. On Friday night, instead of A Far Cry playing a stream from Jordan Hall, I played some Bach from my living room instead. We'd already said our farewell to the program by releasing some rehearsal footage of Tramonto from a couple of days before.
There's uncertainty and fear about what comes next, as much as we're resolved to do what we can to help. I just don't know what the next days will bring. I can't offer much, but I hope that in some small way the trajectory of this crazy program might just help a little. We're in the tough part, and we don't know how much tougher it's going to get, but there is no doubt that the sun is waiting on the other side of it to shine again.
Ahhhh, what the heck, Trevor Noah said it better. <3
Sending love to you all. And please stay home!
Oh - and here's some extreme grooming.