Month: January 2019

Sources of Inspiration

One of the many enjoyable aspects of my work is getting to interview interesting people. Often these are musicians, and I love asking them how they got interested in music and what inspired them. Recently, a violinist I interviewed told me he saw Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street, and all these years later he still vividly remembers the excitement and wonder he felt when he saw the legendary musician on the children’s show. I recall that, as a very little girl, I listened over and over (and over) to my parents’ LP of pianist Garrick Ohlsson playing Chopin’s two piano concertos. The American pianist had just won the Chopin International Piano Competition, and I was completely consumed with that music. It sparked something in me, and helped shape the path of my life and career. Decades later, I had the chance to meet Garrick Ohlsson in the green room after an orchestra concert for which he was the soloist, and those memories of listening to his Chopin LP came flooding back to me. It reminded me of how deeply and profoundly inspiring great music can be, and of the many and varied sources of inspiration there are.

What inspired you to love classical music? Whether it was Sesame Street, a family LP, cartoons, or a chance encounter with a radio program as you scanned the dial … how did you start and cultivate your love of music? Please share your story!

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Why not?

I recently attended a memorial service for the mother of a friend and musical colleague. She was a woman in her late 80s — an accomplished and beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, neighbor, and philanthropist. For about an hour, people shared stories of her sense of fun, generosity, hospitality, directness and kindness. I knew this lovely lady primarily from her consistent spot in the front row at my performances with her son. She and her late husband were enthusiastic fixtures at every concert, no matter the weather or their schedules, and even as their health declined in their later years.

One speaker at the memorial summed up her life in a way that truly resonates with me. She said that she would often seek her grandmother’s advice about how to proceed with something in her life. “Grandma, should I [fill in the blank]?” And Grandma’s reply was usually an enthusiastic, “Why not??”

So as this new year begins, I hope you will consider this wise and beloved woman’s advice. If you’re thinking about learning something new (a musical instrument, a language, a job skill), trying something different (a food, exercise routine, home, concert), or pursuing some dream on your wish list … ask yourself, “WHY NOT??” Take a first step, and see how it goes!

Happy New Year!

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