Thursday, December 25, 2008


Twas the day before Christmas, with my family snug at home, when I looked from a bin of potatoes and onions at Metropolitan Market, and thought about Shalom. But glancing up from the bin, here's what I saw: Two ghosts—a married couple—from my Christmases past. Sure enough, the husband had observed me, and then quickly spun round, appearing to float from aisle unbound. A ridiculous hide-and-seek proceeded to begin. The ghost from Christmases Past presided over the cheese, while I whizzed with my cart in tow down cereal and grain. As I made my way (with heart pounding through my chest) towards olives and cheese, the apparition wafted down Spice Lane, nose in the air. His pale, garrulous wife seemed to hover near the fruits. I left the market with only a breast of turkey (free range, I'll have you know), a few potatoes, and a heavy heart. The snow covered hills and winding streets offered me an opportunity to reflect on life, and I trampled home, recalling books and perspectives which have become my own.

Daniel Barenboim emphasizes in his latest book, "Music Quickens Time" the difference between power and force. It is an illuminating topic, as the two entities are often confused in politics, music, and everyday life. Barenboim makes this point: The idea of music, as we see, could be a model for society; it teaches us the importance of the interconnection between transparency, power and force. During my formative years as an orchestra musician, I felt most respondent (as opposed to despondent), in the presence of inspirational and thoughtful leaders. There were so few in my life that I can count them on, perhaps, one hand. Orchestra musicians tend to revere leaders on the podium as parishioners do their priests, congregants to clergy. We seek guidance and encouragement from our music directors especially, for they have the potential to become role models, allowing us to transcend our own limitations. That is partly why Barenboim, a defiant individual, tower of power, symbol of acceptance and integration of humanity, is unique in my eyes. A feeling of communion is also the force that compels me to play with Rainier Symphony— the music director, David Waltman, an innovator and motivator.

I have mentioned in several previous entries of this journal, my indebtedness to Ralf Gothoni as a source of personal enlightenment for my own artistic achievement. As a Christmas gift to my readers, I'm including the CNN link to Ralf and Elina's recent performance for Nobel Peace Prize recipient, former Finnish leader, Martti Ahtisaari.


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