Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Well, I guess you don't really realize what's important to you until you almost lose it. At about noon I heard my mom let out a huge gasp, "There's a leak in the living room roof!" she cried. This isn't the only leak problem she has. As a home owner, she was seeing dollar signs and a big hassle unfolding, since the guy she asked to fix the other leak still hasn't come to do it, after many months. I am so impractical, I don't have any idea about stuff like that, and am pretty useless at helping with it. Then, all of a sudden, I saw it. The leak was right over a small tray table I had set up in my mini music studio. On the other side of the room was a bookshelf housing hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars of music books I have accumulated over the last almost 20 years. On this side of the room, however, sitting on the tray table were two 1-1/2 foot high stacks of looseleaf papers. Soaked. So, with the generous help of my mother, we carefully took apart the papers and set them out, trying to save them from ending up stuck together and ruined. On the floor and on tables all over lay sheets of music, page by page -- mostly compositions written by friends (Josh Nemith, Andre Myers, Jeff Letterly), photocopies of other music I've worked on with translations and expressive markings, a transposition of a Grieg song that took me hours to input in the computer lab at NEC, which I don't happen to have on disk, a handwritten a capella vocal piece written by my brother (which is most likely the only copy). The music that was bound had to be hung up, so hanging on a clothes line in the basement are Berg's "Vier Letzte Lieder", Harbison's "Mirabai Songs", David Dies's "Lorca Songs", a song cycle by Robert Paterson, songs by Chris Bailey, Monteverdi's "Confitebor tibi Domine", etc. etc. All over the basement floor is an orchestral piece written by my first boyfriend ever, which I screwed up in performance because I couldn't see the conductor. I decided to throw away some of the things in the pile that seemed replaceable, including photocopies of articles and music from Dr. Laura Schwendinger's composition seminar "Contemporary Text Setting", which I took in Fall 2005 at UW. But many of these things would require much cost to replace. Getting composers to send you copies of their music is somewhat akin to getting the phone company to send a refund. Ironic, though, that I was just talking about the emotions involved in going through papers. And fate would have to force me to do it. What I saw, as I was in this process of saving my music, was a look at my life's work so far -- a look at what has really been of importance to me over the last decade plus. I feel like this was a test to see how important music, and more specifically contemporary art song, really is to me. I was teary thinking about each composer, each repertoire class, and each performance I had put my heart and soul into. Finally, I also realized how much emotion I had buried inside about how hard it was to find myself in Madison, WI alone and unsupported, trying to make sense of how I would carry on without funding. This whole year I have been trying to figure out what I really want to do with my life, whether teaching voice is something I can really feel good about, whether opera and classical singing is something that is worth while, whether all of this has been in vain because I am just not on the same page with the rest of the singing community. I have been testing the limits of my emotional resources, considering going back to school and learning a whole new craft. But today I found myself face to face with pieces of paper which represent what is important to me, what I have put so much love into year after year for fifteen years. I love the music. I love the process. I love sharing it and learning about it. I love languages. I love knowing about the physiological mechanism that makes singing happen. I love the relationships -- meeting and talking to composers about their work. Uff da!