Saturday, April 27, 2013


My friend Phyllis in Dallas recently sent me this photo from 20 years ago.  It was our first summer to live in Maine year-round and I was proudly showing off both our tomato harvest and new kitchen cabinets.  But I wasn’t quite all here in Maine-can you see that my shirt is an abstract drawing of Big Tex, the iconic mascot of the State Fair of Texas?

That photo brought tears to my eyes because as I stared at it the passage of time really hit me over the head. (My husband kindly commented You don’t look like that anymore.  Thanks, Bill!)  But he is right…sometimes I look in the mirror and hardly recognize my face. It’s more than just physical changes, though.  During the twenty years we’ve been in Maine a daughter has grown up and flown the coop, we have lived in three houses, made many friends and also given up on some, painted lots of walls, grown many gardens…in short, we have lived.

My 58th birthday was earlier this month and it was especially celebratory. Yet at the same time I am aware that I’m approaching the end of a pivotal decade in which I have seen the appearance of many gray hairs, the draining effects of menopause, some intense soul-searching and the loss of loved ones…as well as a sense of purpose, contentment and happiness that I haven’t felt since the early days of raising our daughter. 

Shall we raise a toast to getting older?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Right Place

“That I am in the right place at present there is no doubt about, as I have found something interesting to work at, in my own field, and time and place and material in which to do it.”

                                                                                    Winslow Homer

I know that feeling…on Palm Sunday, March 24, I conducted The St. Saviour’s Festival Choir and instrumentalists in a performance of Bob Chilcott’s new Requiem.  Premiered in 2010 it is quickly growing in popularity among both choirs and audiences throughout the US and England for good reason.  The work is a requiem of peace and hope and it is comforting, inspiring and uplifting.  The harmony is often modern, but not jarring, and the Sanctus made me feel like dancing on a Caribbean beach.

This work was a challenge for my choir and the few ringers, mostly because it was brand new to everyone.  Two weeks before the performance, to my horror, they acted like they’d never seen the music before. I lay awake for hours that night trying to figure out how to solve the problems.  I must have because it came together beautifully.

The exquisite and unusual instrumentation calls for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, timpani and organ.  The organ is the foundation, the timpani provides drama, and the winds add color. The 24 singers balanced perfectly against the accompaniment in the beautiful setting of St. Saviour’s.

But this is why I know that feeling…standing in front of the performers and a full house I was able to bring the score to life, to convey the meaning of the music from my heart to the hearts of the choir and instrumentalists and on to those in the audience.  The music spoke to us; we were moved.  It was a deeply profound experience, and I am grateful.