Tonight was the closing night of our chamber music festival, the 28th season - and our seventh as Artistic Directors - of the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck.
As the soothing sounds of Schubert's Cello Quintet resonated through the hall tonight, I couldn't help but think: My life as a music teacher and a performer is so crazy, yet it is so beautiful. It's an odd co-existence of two diametrically opposing things. I've been through some truly difficult times in this career. Some people have gone out of their ways to undermine my work. I always have to run and practice when I should be playing with my children. I strive to perform beautiful and meaningful concerts, and only occasionally am I asked to return. I constantly and futilely compare myself to other artists. I bemoan the lack of likes on my Facebook page. I feel that fewer and fewer people appreciate classical music. I still sometimes think about throwing in the towel and defecting to a more normal and predictable life. Why am I even doing this? Am I insane? Making music is beautiful, but is it worth all the agony?
YES. On a night like tonight, especially, the answer is a resounding yes. It is so absolutely worth it.
People from every facet of my life was there tonight. Our festival patrons. An old classmate from college. Friends from church. Students. My wife's students. These students' parents. Family. Former festival interns. My eye doctor. Colleagues from work. I met new people and made new friends. I was infused into the richest imaginable fabric of intertwinedness.
This crazy career in music has brought these beautiful people into my life. I love the conversations and debates about music that these connections bring. I love learning about others' lives and viewpoints. I love being the experience of performing with colleagues, some of whom share similar struggles - and sometimes I even get paid to do this! Music has taken me to places I could otherwise only dream of. Music has allowed me to come face-to-face with my emotions, reign them, and channel them in appropriate ways. Music has given me the ability to bring together legions of people. This is what gives me life; this is why my heart beats. This amazing life is what I chose.
It hasn't been easy, and it won't get any easier. But, having you alongside me during this journey has made it not only bearable, but beautiful. It's a beautiful agony that I wouldn't trade for anything else. You've given me direction and purpose. Thank you, Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck. I am forever grateful.