Today is my birthday!
It’s about 8:15am, and I am sitting on the couch with tissues lodged in each of my nostrils, occasionally uttering sub-sonic greetings to my dog. It’s a weird birthday tradition in my family. -OR- I’m just trying to help my body kick a good ol’ case of bronchitis. I do have a unique family, but it’s actually choice (B) this time. While it looks, by all measures, to be an unfortunate situation for one’s birthday, there is one big silver lining: I have dedicated time to write a blog post! This is a beautiful opportunity to reflect on my 33rd year, and all the neat developments it has held.
This year seems to stand alone in terms of professional growth. It has also held a unprecedented amount of personal contentment, and good health family-wide (current situation not-withstanding…).
Starting on a personal note, my husband and I recently celebrated TWO years of wedded bliss. Okay…it’s not like *every* moment is bliss – let’s be real. That would be weird. But we are closer and even happier together than we were on day one. I know we’re still relative mawwiage babies, but I can’t help but notice how our relationship shifts and evolves over time. It’s like…I generally expect things to remain unchanged unless I consciously aim to change them (Type A’s represent!) – but our relationship has a life of its own, changing constantly to reflect our ever-deepening understanding of, respect for, and affection for each other. I guess it’s not like we don’t work at it, I think each interaction is work toward that goal of an awesome partnership; it’s just rewarding to see the commitment and every-day work pay off.
If you’re reading my blog, you know David’s and my shared love of biking. It had been a handful of years since our last big trip together, so we were chomping at the bit for the tour of Seattle, San Juan Islands, and Victoria we took last summer. It was fabulously scenic and delicious (photos below), and ended with some quality time with my aunt and uncle in Bellingham (after my uncle’s epic minivan rescue of us after David’s tire bit the dust just SIX miles from our final destination…which was their house…).
On a familial note, I realize more and more each year how lucky I am to have healthy parents, parents-in-law, brother, siblings-in-law, cousins, aunts, and uncles around to enjoy. Just last night, as an example, both of the parents, the father-in-law, and an aunt helped coach me through a scary cold-related nosebleed. A nosebleed. Four parental figures on call. It’s a blessing for everyone in the world that I chose music instead of healthcare. Regardless, I had a case of the warm-fuzzies knowing they were all there! (It was a pretty epic nosebleed, for the record. You should have…seen the…other guy…)
Onto the professional life, this has been an exciting year in music. It’s been an example of how powerful it is to have a goal and to take it seriously. It took me a while to realize that the key to career success is NOT hidden inside a staid institution, but that it is in making new friends and connections, talking about your musical passions, and turning those passions into actual projects. Since this time last year, these are some things that have come to pass: the duo (L+M Duo!) I co-founded with fabulous marimbist Laurel Black has performed at 9 venues in 4 states. We’ve commissioned 4 new works (most recently at James Madison University’s Contemporary Music Festival), performed for our peers at the burgeoning New Music Gathering, and became the Ensemble-in-Residence at University of Illinois-Chicago. Adding this educational component, having the chance to work with student composers, is especially gratifying. This winter, I get to talk about our experience commissioning various composers at the Aries Composers Festival at Colorado State University. Insane. The second half of our second season is still full of secrets and promise…more soon!
The week before I head into the snow for that festival, I’ll be in sunny Miami for two solo recitals. Are you kidding me? These performances are the result of a collaboration with Crossing Borders Music and professor/musicologist/divo/all-around musical renaissance man Dr. Robert Grenier last spring. Back in May and June of this year, I presented two solo recitals in Chicago of Haitian classical works for solo piano. One recital was broadcast on WFMT, and was later featured as a blog post on the same station, including some of my thoughts about the music. The other recital, really meant as a preview performance, somehow came to be shared almost 100 times on Facebook among the Haitian community. It became clear that this repertoire really resonates with folks. And so, I was invited to perform more Haitian solo rep at the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami, Florida this February. I’ll play once for the students, and again for the general community. I am so excited…and not just for the gown shopping.
I’ve also been collaborating with my dear friend, flutist/writer/yogi Emma Koi. Last spring, we collaborated with the imitable Katherine Duncan of Katherine Anne Confections to present an evening of music and chocolate pairings. It was really fun, and you may keep your eye open for an encore… Emma and I continue to explore all kinds of flute and piano music around Chicago and Milwaukee. Also taking place in the Chicago/Milwaukee realm is the Jason Seed Stringtet. I first joined this group (comprised of composer/guitarist/arranger Jason Seed, and a killer string quartet made up of players from the Chicago and Milwaukee symphonies) a little over a year ago. This music is remarkably inventive and challenging and fun, and it feels like I’m finally in a “band.” Ifeelsocool.
HERE COMES SOME PHOTOS RANDOMLY, BECAUSE I DIDN’T FORMAT IT CORRECTLY:
Where was I? Oh! The teaching realm, I’ll be transitioning in December from the New Music School, where I’ve been on faculty for the past 6 years(!), to the Music Institute of Chicago. MIC is nationally recognized for the quality of their programs, and I’m delighted to join their faculty. I’ve grown significantly as a teacher and a person at the New Music School, and am grateful to have had that experience.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as a #blessed-fest – but as an artist, I’m inclined to always be self-critical, and don’t often enough take the opportunity to reflect on growth over time. It’s important, I think.
Here’s hoping you also take a little time to reflect on your growth over the last year or two. I assure you, you have grown!
HOW COULD I FORGET? I’ve also been graced with another year with my canine soul-mate, Bruiser (promised photo above). We just enrolled him in an intro-level Nose Work class. After just one class, he has declared himself a Nose Genius, and tries to sniff out secrets like Sherlock Holmes on every walk, and will drag us toward Nose School (luckily, 3 blocks away from home) at every opportunity. What a goo-boy.