Magical places and spaces

Hi Michi!

It's funny, first of all, to be saying hi to you on this blog, because WE'RE IN THE SAME PLACE! And what a place this is!

To all our readers (hey parents!), we've been spending the past few days at what appears to be paradise. Avaloch Farm Music Institute "provides a unique opportunity for chamber music and jazz ensembles at any stage of development, to have the time and space to work intensively on repertoire, prepare for recordings, concerts or competitions, work with composers on commissions, and forge or reconnect to a group musical identity."

It feels like magic here. There are so few times in our lives where we have the time, and space, and surrounding system to immerse ourselves so fully in self-ish parts of the musical lives we've chosen. Because our collaboration is long-distance, rehearsal time already feels both precious and constrained. But then one or both of us has other rehearsals or teaching scheduled, or gets hungry (me), and our time together is set aside. This gift of uninterrupted time - we don't have to cook here, we don't have obligations beyond showing up on time for dinner - means that we can work in a consistent flow.

So, this sounds (and is!) like wild luxury. I feel...I don't know, drawn to tears or something similar. It's not that I think society doesn't like music, or think it's important to have. It's more that I'm taken aback by the incredible generosity of a place like this. I hear of my friends doing graduate degrees in science that have no student loans because their school not only pays for their work, but has the money to give stipends one could actually live on. Or computer friends that have daily catered lunches at their jobs, along with ping-pong tables to foster a sense of community and fun. This is not generally the experience of a classical musician.

I'm not bemoaning my choice of career. I am incredibly fortunate to be have been able to make this my lifestyle at all. I am motivated and fulfilled by what I do. I have creative and operational freedom. But this experience is so rare, that some amazing people said "We value music and artistry. What might musicians need to really be able to develop themselves, on their own terms? Okay...let's provide that for them, without apparent financial gain for ourselves."

I'm gushing, I know. It's just so generous! There's also a part of me that feels guilty - the same part that wonders if it's ok to spend my life as a musician, rather than a humanitarian aid/environmental volunteer. But if I'm going to buy into the idea that one's vocation is to be celebrated and developed and the world needs all sorts, then I need to believe it's ok to be here. And more importantly, work to develop this sort of generosity of spirit.