My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Accompanying on top of the world

From Wikimedia Commons
Today I feel like I can honestly say that I played on top of the world, both literally and figuratively.  This time the recital was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, in the tiny rural town of Meadows of Dan.  A young violinist, probably about 10 years old, had asked me if I would play for her very first violin recital.  I had only accompanied her a few times previously but her lovely, gentle spirit and quiet determination to perform made it impossible to resist the request, in spite of the long drive out to their community.  I had absolutely no idea where I was going as I made the trip out there but driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the heavy rain, and then past that, out into the country, I realized that I didn't really care.  I had entered a completely different world than I was used to and based on similar experiences in the past, I had a feeling that this Suzuki Book 1 recital was going to be well worth the time.  

It was.  Times 10.

The recital was in a tiny church that was located at the end of a long gravelly country road.  There really wasn't much of anything surrounding it except for land and some houses and small farms.  I arrived 45 minutes early but the church already had quite a few people in it that were just sitting quietly, watching what was going on in preparation for the program.  As I waited for the recital to start, I listened to the conversations going on around me.  By now the church was pretty much filled with people from this small community.  An older man behind me was telling whoever was sitting next to him that he found "something like that little instrument thing" up in his attic a while ago but didn't have any idea what to do with it.  Others were trying to guess which instruments were cellos and which one was the violin - not such an easy task when many of the instruments are smaller versions of the full-sized ones.

The recital began with quite a variety of selections and performers which was followed by the young girl's book recital.  Again, I had no idea what to expect.  It was, after all, a first recital experience.  But this violinist, she was so self-assured, so musical, and what really moved me, she was so in her element.  We had hardly ever played with one another yet whenever I looked over at her, she was right there, looking right back at me, indicating in the wordless, magical way that music allows, what she wanted to do with the music.  I couldn't help but smile.  I couldn't help but soak up the joy that comes from communicating with another musician in this way.

The recital concluded with her teacher and I performing some short movements and by this point in the recital, an hour's worth of music had already gone by, without any pause or intermission.  Yet for the entire time, there was not a peep from the audience.  Afterwards I was approached by just about everyone there and I was amazed to hear what some of their comments were.  Several mentioned that they had never heard classical music before and what an honor it was to finally hear it in their community.  Another said, "I've been around the world a bit but this is like the stuff you hear in the big cities like New York.  This is culture, right here."  A woman approached me and said that she runs the nursing home in town and what an honor it would be to have music like this some afternoon for the residents.  It was one excited comment after another and I left, grinning from ear to ear but also grappling a bit with what I had heard.  How could it be that some of them, perhaps many of them, had never heard classical music before?  It reminded me of how much larger the world is from my own little musical world.  

As a thank you, this young violinist gave me a tiny mouse that she had knitted herself.  She hadn't picked up the yarn at Michael's though, or purchased it off the internet, she had spun the yarn herself from local sheep and had also dyed it herself.  She had done this all from her home on top of the world where classical music isn't even elevator music.  As she handed me this most special mouse, I realized that thanks to this wonderful experience, I was literally and figuratively on top of the world myself and I find it difficult to want to come back down.

Perhaps I won't.  


  1. Thank you Erica for a very beautiful story.

  2. Wayne, you are most welcome! And thank you for commenting and sharing your reaction - it means so much to hear back from readers, and especially you :-)


  3. You have personified rural community, classical music, and creativity in beautiful prose - I am so glad to read your posts.

  4. Erica, what a beautiful rural musical experience. How uplifting it must have been for that community to listen to that recital! Thanks for posting it.

  5. Thank you for your comment, Chien Tan. It is such a wonderful experience to share music with people that don't ordinarily hear it in person. :-) Keep up your good work sharing knowledge and info about the violin to those that are interested in starting lessons! Every bit counts!!