I spent the week before last at the inaugural Collaborative Piano Insitute, which is the brainchild of Ana Maria Otamendi and Elena Lacheva. This power couple decided to make a summer program centered around pianists, with wonderful vocal and instrumental performers adjuncts to the pianists’ experience. I was thrilled to be part of the Institute’s strong start! The faculty is pretty kicking, if I dare say so, and the students were talented, hard-working, engaged, and supportive of the whole group. I loved it. Brave Ana Maria and Elena and all who took part!

I played on one faculty recital with colleagues old and new, connected to me through U-M, Houston Grand, and the Met. In the audience were my mother, stepfather, and high school choir director. So many threads of my long musical life, from my mom who first showed me notes on the piano, to my Dale Warland-trained high school teacher who casually gave us Monteverdi to sing, to professional and academic colleagues with all the ties to friends and students they represent.

I was grateful for the music we made, and grateful to feel strong ties to my whole life as my family reeled at the sudden death of my stepsister, killed by a criminally negligent driver. She was a musician too, and her ties to Luther College and the Minnesota Chorale reach into my life too. Friends of friends, fellow students of a teacher, performers of the same great works – we’re all just a heartbeat away from one another. In a time of great personal grief, in an atmosphere in which our culture seems to turn ever more inward, this truth has buoyed my heart and kept my family strong.

Thanks and gratitude forever to the great musical community, stretching beyond borders and beyond time.

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