a musical heartbeat
It all starts with a heartbeat. That magical moment, when we see a new baby’s heart beating, pulsating with miraculous life, for the first time, irrefutable evidence of its own autonomous liveliness, we feel into our own pulse, our rhythm, our heart, we marvel that we are here, each beat reinforces our here-ness, the ontological wonder at how unlikely! but how blessed! we are to be here, and how our here and now is actually teeming with opportunities, The heartbeat is the proof and definition of life. And that’s where, for me, the music starts.
Music. It’s all around us, it’s within us, and like a sutra, it defines and expands us. We identify ourselves with it, probably more than we’d like to admit, music is our companion on journeys, our comfort in hard times, and an old friend when we rediscover past music and our past selves, the two often so intertwined that we can recall our apparel and our company from that very instant.
My life is about making music. I’m addicted, I’m a nerd, if I can’t get to my viola then I sing, if I can’t sing then I whistle, if I can’t whistle then I get grumpy. I grew up in the southwestern suburbs of Brisbane, mostly apologizing for being a musical nerd and so out of touch with “reality”, for not knowing who was on the local football team, for being fascinated with the experience of performing in a seething sea of a Beethoven Symphony, or the raciness of a Mozart symphony… I will never forget my first encounter with Gustav Mahler, in a rehearsal of his 1st Symphony, the emotional waves of tenderness, of irony, of cataclysm, of sheer willpower crashing all around me; I tottered out into the bright Queensland sunshine afterwards, not knowing what on Earth had hit me, stuttering like an idiot because I had no words for the profundity I had just experienced.
And music is profound. I love hearing from people that they were moved, that they were inspired, that they were transported during a performance, then I feel that I’ve made a difference for the better, everything’s been worth it! My wish is to be inspirational, that more and more is possible for people to achieve because they heard themselves in my music, or heard some aspect which allows more colour, more vibrancy into the world which they actively inhabit. Attending concerts makes us better listeners… I always tell my students, don’t play a note if you’re not intending to change the world. Music has been described as emotions which you hear; really good music feeds you complex emotions, if it be tragedy, then somehow poetic, if humorous, then with depth. We are emotional beings; we don’t gain in credibility and authenticity when we avoid our emotions, we gain in credibility and authenticity when we recognise, accept and manage them. And I believe music plays an important part in this process.
And yet we need to take those steps, in our society, necessary for ensuring that the contribution of the musician (and artist!) is as highly esteemed as that of the accountant or the engineer. I can’t help it that I’m a musician, music seemed to choose me! Why should my contribution be valued any less? I am horrified by the number of artistic and musical institutions which have already been closed this year; I’ve come to believe that the governments, with all the current funding cuts, have grossly underestimated just how empowering culture is, or else are aware, and have some strange agenda in which culture becomes inaccessible, and humanity dehumanised. Music and the arts document changes and developments in our world more accurately than the history books do – culture is our collective identity, and culture is what gives our lives a wonderful and distinctive flavour, music and the arts make our lives liveable. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would be unbearable”.
I hope you enjoy my “musical heartbeat”; I look forward to comments, feedback, anecdotes, musical quotes. I hope this can be a space where we can meet and share about music and life, I hope that this can be a place of inspiration. xx