Things went very well at the house audition yesterday, I am happy to report. The folks I talked with afterwards agreed, so I am content to forget about this audition and move on to the next thing! Sure, it wasn’t the big event that last year’s was, but I didn’t tank. Thanks heavens for small mercies, eh?
The “next thing” as of now (other than working on Rosenkavalier) is the recording project I have alluded to a few times. This weekend I will record Schubert’s “Auf dem Strom,” a gorgeous song for high voice (originally tenor), French horn, and piano, as part of a cd program put together by Bill Barnewitz, the principal horn player of the SFO Orchestra. Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about five years ago, and he came up with the idea of doing a world-class recording to be used as a benefit and fundraiser for Parkinson’s research. I jumped at the chance to be involved with such a project.
Bill has secured donations of time, money, and services from several musicians here this summer. Singers, both Apprentice and Principal, orchestra members, and pianists will be donating our musicianship; the Opera is donating facilities and services; everything from the liner notes to recording and reproduction costs for the final CD will be donated.
It’s funny how easily one will agree to work for free when the project is worthwhile. And, really, I will be rewarded for this work, as we all will, in knowing that we have helped to make a difference. That’s sounds a bit “Pollyannaish,” but it’s true, isn’t it? Read some of Bill’s words from a speech he gave to the Wisconsin Regional Parkinson's Association, and you will see why we are so eager to join him:
… My sister-in-law and I spoke earlier today about this event tonight. She told me to “shake a leg.” I choose to laugh at things like that. …
… The irony is that I require some very fine motor skills to play the horn. Playing the horn is a bit like spitting a 90 mile-per-hour fast ball through a life saver; tremors do nothing to make this any easier. …
… I am not in any way a willing Parkinson’s patient, yet in some strange way, I am more aware of life’s value. I am still Bill Barnewitz, father, husband, friend, musician, and dog lover, among many other things that now include Parkinson’s patient. I love every concert I play, no matter what it is or how it goes. I practice my horn more than ever. I am driven to do this with a passion only surpassed by my love for my family. I see and feel more deeply the love I receive from family and friends. I get strength and support from them in ways I always have but now I attempt to not take that love for granted. … this disease will not define me.
… So when the time comes to put my horn in the case for the last time, I am OK with that. The Chinese have it right: In that language, the symbols are the same for the words “crisis” and “opportunity.”
How's that for inspiring?
Another reward is, quite simply, the opportunity to sing this music. Ah, how refreshing Schubert feels after a summer of opera! The intimacy, the phrasing, the drama, the descriptive writing for all three voices… It is sublime. I’ve tried to find the right analogy to describe how wondrous it feels to sing this. Maybe food: imagine eating only Italian food for two months. Or maybe French is a better cuisine to imagine – rich, heavy, complex. Delicious but almost overwhelming in large doses. Then, one day, you are served something different. It could be anything, really: fresh Mediterranean fare, savory Japanese sushi, or classic American “home cooking.” What matters is that it is so different, it feels so new, so fresh. You still love those French meals, but your palate has been cleansed. It’s fantastic.
And now I’m hungry…