Tomorrow's Spectacular Offering

One of the great joys in my life is regularly having the opportunity to do completely irregular things. This week? No exception. Although I could easily write about the incredibly singular acting class by Josh Pais that infuses me with energy and life each week, or about the chance to sing two completely different programs at Carnegie Hall in one week (last night's involved a Japanese benefit concert), I'd like to focus now on just this one concert - tomorrow night's.

With so many friends in the chorus, orchestra, and soloists, I can't wait to contribute to the performance of Elgar's The Apostles. An extraordinary work of great beauty and rarity, everyone in the hall will hear the luscious harmonies and experience even the sound of a shofar in the orchestra. I'd even dare to call our conductor Leon Botstein a friend in many ways, as he's been a great friend of the arts and artists for most of his life. Because of him and his passion for uncovering these rare gems, I get to perform, present, and experience these incredible pieces I otherwise probably would never have even heard.

Tonight, I feel full of gratitude, and I imagine that sensation will multiply exponentially at tomorrow's event, and hopefully for many years as I continue to create great art. Living life as an artist is generally as complicated as one might imagine, yet these moments sparkle as the highlights and reminders of why I do it. I also live this life in this way so others can enjoy the fruits of our labors - which I highly recommend you do tomorrow night, if you can.

I'm Back!

For anyone who's worked with the actor and instructor Josh Pais, those two words will sound very familiar. "I'm back." For a man with over eighty IMDb credits alone, one might think it referred to his acting career... he is indeed a very prolific actor. Thankfully for me, and likely a large number of his students he has influenced over the years, it actually refers to being present. In the moment. Here.

Somewhere deep inside my head, I've struggled and receded into spirals of future worries and past frustrations. Forgetting to notice the unique interactions all around me, the sound of someone drinking water, the feel of a cool wind in the warm rays of sunshine, I lost myself in Candy Crush, The Blacklist, and just about anything that could distract me from the pain and inconvenience of an injury this summer. Josh Pais's Committed Impulse intensive this past weekend took me away from all of that and into the vibrant world of reality, with all of its swirling energies and honesty.

At first yawning through Friday night's introduction, I thought I couldn't possibly have the energy to maintain the level of presence and aliveness clearly exhibited in what seemed like every moment for Josh. On the contrary, I now realize that I don't have the time or desire to waste my life buried in playing a video game, lost in Facebook, or buried in my phone or worries. The energy I have regained since this weekend is boundless, my inspiration for life and work has increased exponentially, and even the scenes I act and the music I sing feel and sound so alive, in ways I've rarely experienced as an adult. 

The brilliant and creative son of a theoretical physicist who worked with Einstein, Josh Pais taught us some incredible acting techniques and, more importantly, some major truths I had quite forgotten lately. We will all have moments in which we get pulled out of the present and into the voices (usually negative) in our heads. Thankfully, we also have some choices. Following the downward spiral of negativity is no longer one of mine. So - as I was encouraged to say this weekend whenever I caught myself moving away from the present moment - I'm back. This time, I intend to stay.

To Maestro Maazel

To Maestro Maazel

At the Castleton Festival in Vermont yesterday, sad news once more cooled the musical landscape as Maestro Lorin Maazel passed, less than a month after we lost Julius Rudel... As Maestro Rudel precariously leaped over the pit to save time in rehearsals in Spoleto and Maestro Maazel silenced a coughing audience with his glare as he began a beautiful composition again from the beginning, I fell in love with opera and symphonic music and never looked back...