Being a professional musician is a hard thing. It's a very hard life, and it's not one I recommend for anyone unless they know they would rather stop breathing than give up their instrument. Music has a way of consuming your heart and becoming a part of your soul.
One of the absolute best things about being a music student and now a professional musician is the people I have met. I know some of the most beautiful souls in the world, and I've had the immense privilege of playing and performing music with them.
My first semester at Peabody, I didn't know anyone and was randomly assigned to a chamber group. We quite arbitrarily chose to learn Schumann's Piano Quintet, and most of the group didn't stay together after that first semester. Life has a funny way of working out, though, and the violinist and the violist from that first group stayed with me and a new cellist to form a quartet. Our last year at Peabody, the four of us were nearly inseparable, and our violist, Lillian, and I became particularly close.
Three and a half years after that first chamber meeting, I found myself in Orlando, Florida, where I taught a masterclass and played chamber music with Lillian for her students. After leaving Peabody, she moved to Florida to teach at a high school conservatory there and was able to hire me as a guest artist. We also took a little trip to Universal Studios on a day off. Little did I know that that random chamber music assignment would someday lead me to the Hogwarts Express with one of my favorite people!
No one responded.
Initially, anyway. A few days later, I got a message back, from one Wade Meyers. He was available on my recital date, and knew the Beethoven sonata. I would learn later that he is not really a Facebook person at all, and sometimes goes weeks without checking it. How lucky I was that he happened to log in that day. I sent him the music, and we set up an initial time to meet. We started rehearsing, and instantly my chamber music starved soul started to revive. (One of the other hardest things about being outside of school is having time to play chamber music, as everyone is always working, and playing chamber music for fun doesn't exactly pay.) And then, at the end of the fifth movement of Lalo Symphonie Espagnole, it happened. I made a mistake, or thought I did. We tried the final cadences again. And it happened again. I was really confused - I thought I was counting correctly, and wasn't sure why we weren't ending at the same time.
"It's okay," Wade said. "It's like the end of Return of the King. It ends a ton of times before it actually ends."
And that was it. The end of the concerto came together, we rehearsed the rest of the program, and then we talked about music, life, and Lord of the Rings for two more hours. Six months later, we decided to form an official duo and the Argonath Duo was born. It's been the most musical fun I've had in years, and getting to know someone as a person as you're learning music with them is an incredible experience.
So thank you to all of my friends, musicians and non-musicians, mentioned in this post and not, who have supported me, laughed with me, cried with me, listened to me when I stress, and played music with me over the years. I wouldn't be the person or musician I am without you, and I am profoundly grateful.