31 May 2009

I have been blessed with a career that not only has taken me to great places, and introduced me to great people, but that gives me a chance to regularly express myself through the medium of my talents. Often I am reminded by people I meet that this is not something most people get to do — certainly not at work.

I am sitting on the train leaving Gothenburg after one of the most intense and awesome five days of my career. Not only did I get to sing one of my favorite pieces, the Verdi Requiem; but, I got to do so with a most amazing team of people.

The conducting name on everyone’s lips nowadays is undeniably Gustavo Dudamel. And, for once, the hype, the excitement, the over-the-top superlatives are all justified. He is as normal a 28 year-old as I have ever met (curly-cues bopping, cracking jokes, strolling in 15 minutes before performance while inhaling a melting ice cream), but really this is an individual with a musical identity so developed and inspired that it quite literally overflows the boarders of his being and bleeds into everything and everyone with whom he comes into contact; quite literally transforming everyone and everything that comes into his path…

Add my friend and colleague, Dominic Natoli (whose singing I absolutely LOVE!!), and the sublime mezzo-soprano, Ekaterina Semenchuk, and you have a recipe for delight. Singing duets with Ekaterina was a revelation of ensemble singing, finding sweeter and ever more sensitive ways to turn a phrase, but also spinning off some fiery heat and explosive intensity. I haven’t sung with anyone previously who has had as complimentary and as mutually inspiring expression and vocal quality. Not to mention a super-personality and a tender, generous heart!

The orchestra is really a very fine one, and it is blossoming back into its former glory under the steady stream of Dudamel-fire; and the chorus (an amateur one at that!) sang the whole piece from memory, and with such pure, gorgeous, powerful and enthusiastic sound it was positively tear jerking.

What a week!

Dominic reminded me that most musicians wait a whole career for a musical experience such as this one. In fact, I think his words were that HE really has waited all his life for this!
We are both Maestro Dudamel’s seniors by quite a few years, and, I dare say we have both experienced our share of setbacks and disappointments, challenges and slow roads… And the thought and wish we both carried with us when we left the week in Gothenburg was, how deeply and dearly we both hope that Dudamel’s enthusiasm, sense of play, non-pretentiousness and complete lack of ego both in his music making and his communication, will go unscathed through the quagmire that is the international music business.

He is undeniably mid-dive into the deep end of the pool, and with great mentors and friends and family, I am sure he will do great. But, I found myself fighting back new found elder/maternal feelings of wanting to protect him — and the gift he shares so awesomely!

But I do believe in the goodness of the Universe, so I have to believe that someone who spreads so much joy and inspiration to others, and whose life story so personifies the good that music can do, will have his very own set of guardian angels looking out for him.

In the meanwhile, I urge anyone who reads this to keep all young musicians in your thoughts — That they find the courage and strength to bring music into a new role of hope and inspiration to all kinds of people – everywhere!

§