My post yesterday about Nicholas Phan and the concert we performed together in February got me thinking about my time in Houston. During 2004-2005, I spent ten weeks as principal oboe of the Houston Grand Opera, creating a caesura in my New York life. It was a gift. I had space to think about the course of my life, right in the middle of it.
Certain things that perforce make up a middle class life in the rest of the country (owning a home, dishwasher, washer and dryer, car, and having central AC) are uncommon (though not unknown) among my friends in the city. The cost of living here is daunting and approaches economic farce from time to time, but no one lives in New York if suburban comforts strongly seduce.
I was thinking about this last Monday night as I played (I actually thought about it after I played) the English horn solo in Ravel's G Major Piano Concerto in Carnegie Hall. The event was the debut concert of a young pianist named Xiayin Wang. George Manahan, Music Director of the New York City Opera conducted a top-shelf freelance orchestra. As I played this long and very beautiful melody accompanied by piano arpeggios and sustained strings, I became a aware of a feeling: fulfillment. My domestic circumstances may not be impressive by national standards (something that is on my mind this morning as I put off going to get my laundry from the cleaners in the rain . . .), but my life is full of great music performed with great colleagues in America's greatest musical city.
Now, I'd better get my galoshes and rain coat and go pick up my clothes. I have a rehearsal at Carnegie Hall in 90 minutes.