January 17, 2012 On the train from New York to Washington DC
In the 16 years I have worked with Opera Lafayette I have, with few exception, driven from my home in New York to Washington DC. This is a repeated pilgrimage, three or four times a year, and certain stops along the way are woven into the tapestry. Maryland House is a preferred rest stop, and how happy we were when a crab cake restaurant opened there! Starbucks, YES! Roy Rodgers, NO! Crossing the Chesapeake water gap always beautiful, the light, water, cliffs never fail. Baltimore’s harbor tunnel is a signpost that the long drive is soon to be over. On the road back, usually after a performance and when all the good eateries are closed, gated shut! Traveling in caravan style, we meet at Maryland house where we sit over a coffee, wake up with gossip and complaints on how we have been over worked, and then get back in our cars for the long last lap of the Jersey Turnpike and home to our beds, at 2 or 3 AM.
Sometimes I have a passenger and this usually a plus. Riding with Loretta O’Sullivan, our cellist in Opera Lafayette and in Four Nations (my own chamber ensemble), is a trip of quiet, poised kindness and intelligence. Claire Jolivet, concertmaster, brings a French dry wit, and Jessica Troy, our violist, is the child of 1960’s revolutionaries, a subversive take back Wall Street character who gives me hope for the future. I do remember driving from Columbus, Ohio back to New York City with a singer who used the full 13 hours to tell me about her abusive childhood home life. By State College PA I was wondering if I should just open the door of my van and quietly fall out onto the highway…which seemed considerably less painful than continuing the trip. By the way, I travel in a van as I usually pack a harpsichord.
But today I’m on a train, thinking I can get some of the figuring work done that I haven’t completed, and I’m thinking about what and who I leave at home for two weeks and already miss.
Claire Jolivet once told me that her touring schedule was so full that she missed her son’s 4th year…not birthday…year! And for all the beauty that is our work, for all the satisfaction of seeing an active and varied concert schedule, musicians, like actors, dancers, and traveling salesmen, need to let go of some domestic fulfillments. Janet Baker said in one interview that she decided to forgo having children when she realized that she would hardly ever be home to welcome her child back from school at the end of the day.
On the other hand, in very little time all the players of Opera Lafayette will be kissing and hugging, asking about how their holidays were passed, telling each other that we look great, and getting ready to make a show, a tour and a milestone in our working together.