I had a remarkable moment onstage yesterday. I have not, in truth, loved performing very much in recent months, for reasons too complicated and perhaps too unknown for me to explain. But yesterday at Caramoor, I felt the magic of musical communion with an audience again. Our last two Rising Stars ventures had culminated in audience-less livestreams. The rehearsal weeks had been wonderful, but those video experiences are never comfortable experiences for performers, and on a scale of uptightness from one to five, I was a six.
Our show was recorded and filmed yesterday too—for potential future broadcast. But in the moment it was a throwback to old times: singing songs for a group of living, breathing listeners. Yes, they were masked. But we could tell they were hungry to be sung to, and they devoured our music and our spoken introductions like Israelites in the desert receiving manna. Suffice it to say that all the musicians onstage delivered the goods with grace and a kind of authority that took my breath away.
The miracle was that I was able to experience all of this as it was happening. At one point I looked at Bénédicte and Francesco across from me at the other piano, and up at the sconce hanging above them, and the artwork in the room, and the rapt eyes of the audience, and I was forcefully aware of the gift of making music, of having friends and colleagues and students and listeners—truly, the gift of being alive, surrounded by beauty. I often spend my onstage time absorbed in the challenge of honoring the songs that lie under my fingers. (Translation: dealing with my anxieties about screwing up.) Yesterday I stepped back and saw—really saw—where we were and what we were doing.
And it filled me with pride.