It’s a very odd feeling when suddenly the ground is moving beneath your feet and you’re in the middle of doing the washing up! Or when you feel sick to your stomach at the prospect of eating when your whole body is crying out to lie down right now, next to the washing machine, curl up and sleep because it’s not 7am it’s 2am. Or at least that’s what your body thinks… Jet lag, it’s rock and roll! Especially when your little bundle of joy wakes up full of beans shouting ‘Mama, iPad!’ (How does he know this word already?!)
Nick and I just returned from a fab trip to Canada and the US. We spent the first week recording our latest album for Nimbus and the second attending the Chamber Music America conference in New York City. Leaving our little eighteen month old Nathaniel behind in London for nearly two weeks was utterly heart-wrenching but knowing that he was safely tucked in the arms of his loving Grandparents gave us the space to do the best job we could with the knowledge and security of his wellbeing.
I would like to share three experiences with you over the trip that I hope you’ll enjoy…
1. After a long six hour drive from Montreal to a place called Charlevoix north of Quebec City temperatures dropped to -25 outside. The snow and icy weather was beginning to look fairly savage outside and at 10pm we still had our sound check to do before we began our recording early the following morning. Feeling tired, sluggish and cold we were still eager to see the hall that would play home to our three days of recording… The lights clicked on, deathly silence, the open space was warm and inviting. DOMAINE FORGET. I write this in capitals because I need you to know the name of this place. This concert hall is above all other acoustics I have ever played in! When Nick opened the lid to the piano, sat down and played, it honestly took my breath away. Melted Lindt chocolate, soft velvet, my sons warm skin, these things are the only way I can describe this acoustic. I could hardly wait to play, to record, to capture this phenomenal place and become part of it was truly a privilege.
2. ‘Every time you complain, feel hard done by or can’t understand why life is playing you such a hard card, you are doing yourself a disservice and you must work harder to take the high road and BE BETTER.’ This was the opening line of a lecture I attended given by Quinton Morris at the incredible and totally awesome organisation that is Chamber Music America. This conference happenes every year in NYC and brings together Artists, Agents, Promotors and Presenters from all over the US. I was so inspired by the stories I heard and the people I met over the few days but there was one man especially who I shall think of often in my journey as a musician. 86 year old Luca DiCecco created the Garth Newel Music Center in Virginia and he held his audience captive as he told us the story of his wife, family and all that he has achieved starting with literally nothing. He had a dream, a vision of beauty and nature with which music should exist around. When he was asked by an audience member how he has been coping with retirement he looked confused and said ‘Did I retire?! Do we as musicians ever stop loving what we do?’ Yes I thought to myself, that is how I want to live the rest of my life.
3. Our final day in NYC with blue blue sky, we wrap up warm and of course there’s only one place to go and that is Central Park. Having never been, we took the scenic route down Fifth Avenue past Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It felt wonderful to walk, talk and breath after the hard work of recording and so much interaction with all the members of Chamber Music America. We ambled along taking photos and came to some long stone steps that took us down towards a dark tunnel and what greeted us there was something far more beautiful than I’ll ever be able to write… Music… A brother and sister singing with one guitar… A rendition of Amazing Grace… He began singing… It was as if the sound resonated deep within him and came not from his mouth but his very core. Such simplicity and beauty in every note was absolutely staggering. There had been so much noise surrounding me for so long that I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed by this incredible music and suddenly I felt peace.
‘Music is such a gift’ my Grandmother used to say to me and how right she was. Wether music moves you, makes you feel uplifted or stirs your soul, this universal language is one just too good not to share epsecially when it takes you completely by surprise and makes you feel whole again.