I woke up on a brisk September morning one day before my recording date to the cry of a Raven. The voice was so clear in my dream that I believed the bird was just over my head. Half asleep, I asked my husband why there was a Raven in the room. I took the morning very slowly and nurtured every part of my being, body, mind and heart which included very light practicing, a trip to the farmers market and for fun, Wes and I wandered down to Mikes Corn Maze. To my amazement, the theme of the maze, the games and quizzes, were all centered around the minds of animals, specifically Ravens and Crows. As I looked at the aerial photo of the giant corn Raven, I knew it would be an interesting few days. Ravens are known to many native tribes as the ‘keeper of secrets’. Their black color is linked to darkness, where unconscious fear resides. Their medicine is of transformation, offering us the strength to illuminate those dark areas of ourselves, release our fears, thus allowing the authentic self to sparkle. I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate omen for our Light and Shadow cd.
On Sunday, the first day of recording, I dreamt that I was surrounded by about a dozen bears. In the room with the bears was a very wise friend of mine. She was unafraid and so I too became comfortable with a room full of bears. I got up early and headed over to the beautiful Mechanics Hall, breathing and allowing the intense energy of anticipation to wash over me, staying calm and centered in the face of this bear of a project. This graceful calm followed me all day and we moved with relative ease through a large portion of the Poulenc Sonata, exceeding our goal for the first day. I was elated.
But that night I barely slept. I was way over stimulated, and the music was circling around and around in my head. I deliriously awoke for the second day only to discover my arms were tight and tired and nothing felt predictable, and the adrenaline had worn off. No amount of coffee seemed to make a difference. I spent several hours missing shifts, playing insecurely and feeling the pressure of the wasted precious and expensive minutes bearing down on me. I was forced to look directly at my fear. Every note felt difficult, and the more I tried to “get it right”, the more tight my hands became and the worse it sounded. I twisted and turned to try to find the way out of my maze of insecurity. At last I suggested that we play the third movement of the Rachmaninoff Sonata. In that moment, I moved out of my head and into my heart. I thought of someone I love very dearly, who has gone through a very painful few years, and decided to internally offer this as a gift to him. All of that frustration and energy transformed into pure passion, compassion and I became swept up in emotion, the tears streaming down my face. The rest of the day flowed much better.
I nursed my arm with heat, ice, arnica and massage, insisted on sleep with sleepy time tea, and awoke the final recording day with energy and calm again. I found myself enjoying the gorgeous Rachmaninoff melodies, the glorious sound in the hall, and the kind hearted folks who were on the team with me. Joseph, our recording engineer, with his array of buttons. Our quiet page turner Diane. Our humble and patient engineer Zeke and of course, the poised Alys.
As the final hours drew near, we scrambled a bit to get everything we wanted, including wish list items. As the end of hour fifteen drew near, Alys suggested another take of the second movement of the Poulenc, as a benediction. As the opening chords sounded, time collapsed, and I felt the completion of cycle, from that moment on the plane when I first heard the Poulenc, after a painful family event, to this moment on this beautiful stage pouring my heart into the music, supported and held. I felt myself embrace that moment of pain in my life, my family, as memories of this family tragedy played like pictures in my mind, and poured into my hands. My heart opened wide and I began to sob with profound gratitude, relief, sadness, joy for this beautiful gift of music and life.
A tremendous outpouring of gratitude to all of you who have supported this project.