by pieces of moments


{the above picture is not only my favorite place in town, but my mantra for my vacation…SLOWDOWN}

I write to you today from my favorite café in my fabulous hometown, Omaha, NE. Steven Isserlis is serenading me through my headphones (meanwhile Regina Spektor plays throughout the café) as I try to work on some research. It’s hard. This café is basically a fraternal twin to one of my favorite little bookstores, and the books are beckoning me to come for a visit. But no, I stand firm sitting here reading articles and, you know, sneaking some superfluous internet scouting in between. It’s like a parfait – a layer of research then a layer of YouTube (and since parfait is French for “perfect”, I guess it’s the best method, no?).  Oh, who are we kidding? It’s Sunday afternoon and furthermore I’m on vacation!

You know what I love about Omaha? It’s authentic. Now, I’m not trying to say that every other city isn’t, or doesn’t have pockets of authenticity, but after years of living in a few major cities in the United States, I feel I can say this with some confidence in my own powers of assessment. The thing is, in many larger cities people move there to get their big break, or to become something that they always wanted to become. By in large, no one is trying to prove anything to anyone here. You are what you are, or you like what you like, and that’s that. It’s cool.

Actually, authenticity is something I have been thinking about for a while now. It’s amazing to me how potent a thing it is, authenticity. If you look it up in the dictionary it is primarily defined as

  1. not false or copied; genuine; real
  2. having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence
  3. entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy

Back in Boston, and around the country, actually, I listen to thousands of students audition for our shows, and often even if a performance is spotless it can totally lack authenticity. In these cases I, to be blunt, yawn and put my pencil down. It’s boring. Authenticity sits on the edge of a precipice and it can be great or it can be ugly, but that’s what makes it exciting! If you know me well, you probably know that one of my favorite segments of music history are the riots – imagine something so authentic that it caused people to riot! monstres sacré! Okay, enough about the riots (I know I mention it perhaps a bit too often). But authenticity is volatile and scary. If you put forth ideas that are not authentically yours (i.e. safe) you risk a lot. That’s why I think being a vocalist is one of the most scary fields in music, because if people don’t like your instrument they don’t like that most authentic part of you – your own voice.

I hope I don’t sound too self-help-y by saying this, but with the new year coming round, wouldn’t it be great if all musicians, artists, writers, and “liberal arts people” (as one of my undergraduate conservatory colleagues called all those outside the conservatory and fine arts departments) really strove toward authenticity in 2009? I wonder what sounds, stories, and images would be produced to hand down to the next generations?

Okay boys and girls, I gots to get outta here, my little cafe is closing up for the day and I have to head over and visit some friends (Meg, they are cheering for the Eagles!).

More soon, ciao!