September has always represented for me, a chance to begin a new cycle. Despite having been driven by fiscal and corporate calendars for the last 45 years and January- to- December calendars all of my life, I am somehow surprised, that I would still feel this renewal urge each fall.
My husband, a leader in education his entire life, of course was guided by the school year calendar, as were my children, so in a sense, it may not be that surprising that each fall my thoughts turn to renewal. Whatever the reason, I feel strongly that this season presents an undeniable watermark, for positive repositioning of one’s plans.
This September, in particular, I’m given the unique opportunity to reorganize my life, since it is the first Autumn of my retirement from the business world. That said I am hardly ready to ‘retire’ in the sense that one stops to rest and retreat. Instead, I am looking forward to shifting my emphasis to fully embrace the things I’ve never had enough time to do well; photography, knitting, writing and pursuing what I’ve always considered to be my avocation – Music.
Which brings me to the theme of this day’s essay: How am I attempting to reestablish music as a priority and a passion, as I embark on this phase of life’s journey? In several ways:
Having recently returned from the Berkshire Choral Festival, where 120 like-minded singers learned and performed scenes from three operas, under the baton of David Hayes, I am, once again, reinvigorated! Not only is the glow of that wonderful week providing a continuing high, I am enrolling in next year’s program as well – specifically, the Bach “B Minor Mass.“
Last week, I rejoined the Choral Arts Society of NJ, renewing old friendships and looking forward to learning Mozart’s “Missa Brevis in C Major”, and Chillcott”s “Requiem” – both new additions to my repertoire.
I am sincerely hoping that the New Jersey State Opera launches an exciting season and one in which the chorus plays a significant role.
In considering church choir possibilities, I remember well the days as Cantor at 8 AM Sunday Mass. I enjoyed it tremendously, but I also recall hours of mentally and physically preparing and protecting my voice, and early Sunday mornings warming up; followed by dragging my family out to that early mass. Even if my voice were up to it, I am not sure I have metal and physical fortitude to get back into that rigorous routine again. So I am leaving my options open.
On a personal note, I’m undertaking teaching piano to my Number 3 grandson, Robby. Having never taught piano, I see view this as a tremendous honor and responsibility to guide this untapped talent into a genuine love of music and musical performance. I expect this will quickly lead to professional piano lessons (coming to Grandma’s to practice on a regular basis) and also hoping my other grandsons will be so envious, that I’ll become the Maitre de Musique to them all – each in their own time, of course. I am, in a sense, sowing seeds from which I hope to reap a bountiful harvest.
As for my own vocal and piano technique, reserving time each day to review pieces once mastered, vocalizing each day with tried and true exercises and targeting a new piano work each month, seem achievable objectives.
I surround myself with music, whether listening to WQXR – a wonderful, welcomed respite from the stressful political dialogue that overruns our airwaves – and to which I am, I confess, easily susceptible; or setting up my iPad on the bathtub to listen to ‘my music’ while luxuriating in a nice warm bubble bath.
Music has been my passion since I was a young girl, performing a la Shirley Temple, at every opportunity. Music has been with me through many of life’s trials. Music has given voice to feelings and emotions too overwhelming to express in any other way. Music, to me is an ever-constant source of solace and freeness of spirit, and wonderful gift from God; the gift of not only hearing it and having it in my life, but also the gift of understanding it and appreciating its historical significance; but most importantly, it is the gift of giving it to and sharing it with others.