Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Viewing TZ from Rio

I've been in Brazil for a little more than one week and I've had a lot of time to think about home- Arusha, Nashville, Atlanta, Marseille... where to begin? 

I'm torn, very torn between what makes me happiest. Mostly, I'm talking about my professional career: music-- my passion, my art, my life. When I am in Tanzania, I feel so fulfilled, so appreciated, and so useful. There aren't many classical musicians in Arusha and at times I forget what's going on in the rest of the world. I feel like a top-notch, world-class, butt-kicking musician in Arusha. And I get to have a lot of fun like that! But, of course, there is always something that seems lacking there-- the opportunity to learn, to grow, to for a short time soar from hearing other people, great classical musicians, playing. 

When I went home for Christmas last December, I soon heard some live jazz music with my dear friend Matthew. I almost started crying, I was overcome with the joy of hearing the beloved instrument- double bass!!-- again after so many months without it. Now I'm in Rio, visiting my father, and having the honor to hear great live music of so many types, and to play on some of the world's most incredible organs! Tonight I heard a fantastic concert by world renown, and quite young, organist Christian Schmitt. His music truly moved me, so much that I didn't really want to talk to him or any one after the organ recital; rather, I wanted to be with just the music in my mind, and my emotions for just a bit of time. [He played Pachelbel third sonata, and then later Liszt's variations on B-A-C-H. The Pachelbel seized my soul (I must learn this piece!) but the Liszt offended me. Not his playing, just the composition as a whole. It's so clamorous and doesn't seem to ever develop anything.] But, this was far too good of an opportunity to miss talking with this organist, so dad and I went off with Schmitt a small group of other organists and diplomats to have a bite to eat. At the table, I listened as Schmitt discussed his experiences getting to play with the Berlin Philharmonic. My heart melted a little as I envisioned simply being in that hall- why have I never been to Berlin?! I've spent hours of time watching videos of concerts in the Berlin Phil hall, looking at their digital tour online, and day dreaming about getting to hear a concert there, let a lone perform there!! Suddenly a pressure overtakes me, and inside I hear myself shouting at Dani: "what are you doing?! wasting time not practicing, not competing, not making yourself good enough to get there!"

So then comes the familiar dilemma: which world would I choose if I can, could, will? Will I remain in a place like Tanzania, Haiti, so many countries, that have nothing- no orchestra, few music programs, a handful of instruments and teachers? Where I would be appreciated, set to good use, but left to dry as far as filling my own soul with sharing beautiful music with world class musicians; or would I rather throw myself into the torrent of competition in the bigger arena of classical music? One that, for me is so fulfilling, and yet so heart breaking because of the constant comparison of oneself to others. The world that very few, and increasingly fewer, "mainstream" listeners appreciate, and even fewer understand? Both worlds make me whole, and I surely must find a way to remain (or even get into!) in the arena of the world's greatest musicians AND find a way to feel put to great use and share the greatness of so many pieces with those who have never heard such things. I have to set my own path, and I must find a way to be happy with it. Even though I am not winning world composition, conducting, organ, flute, percussion competitions. I have to find a way to know that what I'm doing is meaningful- meaningful for myself, for others, and for music as a whole. I refuse to become lazy, to take small, uneducated compliments as true judgments of my abilities, and will pursue a higher education and understanding of music. 

It's like there are two realities: one is my imaginary future self, something I day dream of, plot, plan, and organize each day that I live in the 'western world' where I'm reminded of my true musical 'competition'. And then, I sink back into my happy home there in Tanzania. Where ignorance is so blissful for me, forgetting about competition, entrance exams, grades, composition debuts, and judgement from peers. There, in that peaceful tanzania-filled world, I think "how can I teach my university class better? what composers can I introduce them, and myself to? How can I better engage my 6 year old piano students? How can I make my 50 year old flute student breathe more fluidly? How can I stay inspired to keep practicing, to make myself better, to stay 'in shape' musically? 

Perhaps this is the battle ever ex-patriot experiences in a developing nation. How to be two people, in two such separate and different worlds? 

Each day it's a battle, and it takes this plunge back into this western society, where we have SO much, to hold a mirror up and see how much I have in my little world of Arusha, Tanzania. 

1 comment:

  1. I can say each person has a specific amount of energy and time - doesn't matter if you are a scientist, doctor, or musician - we ALL go through this - because one must always balance the mundane (which takes priority) with the global changers and transcendental spheres. I try to draw a balance, but am always frustrated when I must leave the higher spheres just to write cheap articles to make the rent money.

    It's all good though - like those endless passages of mind numbing numbers in the Old Testament> In the end each experience will find its way into a synthesis that only I can write - my chap book that will one day win a Pulitzer - actually!! - just as your experiences will lead to music that only you can compose - you know - real transcendental music that moves the world forward in some way...

    Dunno how to explain this - in part because I didn't believe it took time to just "heal" from the scars that come with learning - if you will - time to tick over and gain experience that gives the courage to throw out the garbage needed to pass a test, and keep what is really important - that which is universally true.

    But... looking back, I can say ya - I was called a literary giant from my teen years, but could not write then or in my 20's what I write now - not even close - only hated my drivel and said "gotta do better". Still - I've got much better in me - but not a clue how to unlock it.

    So - just keep at it, enjoy the journey and keep your eye on your highest goals always - a curve in the road is not a negative deviance so much as it is a detour to excellence.

    And haha - can't you tell I make a living writing things in as many words as possible?!