Sunday, April 25, 2010

Diving In

I learned to swim at the old pool (the old, long gone pool up at the fairgrounds) over the course of several summers when my mother enrolled me and my brothers in Red Cross swimming lessons. There was a progression to the classes - first we were Tadpoles, then Minnows, then Something Else. With each class, we gained a few more skills, a little more confidence in our ability to navigate the water safely.

Somewhere along the line - the summer I was 10 perhaps - whatever level class I was in required us to jump off the high dive and dog paddle to the ladder in the deep end before we could complete the class. My best friend Cindy (who was in the same class) and I agonized over this requirement for days. The board was so HIGH. What if we lost our balance and fell off the side? What if we got dizzy? What if we hit the water the wrong way and hurt ourselves? What if our suit straps came undone? What if, what if, what if…?

The real question was, of course, what if we were too chicken to jump and had to climb back down?

The day of the Big Jump arrived. I can't remember which one of us went first. (Me, I think, but that may just be a trick of my memory.) I remember though that all-alone-at-the-top-of-the-world feeling I got when I stood at the edge of the board and looked down at the impossibly far away water. Our instructor called up encouraging words. There was a line of others behind me. There was a host of butterflies in my stomach.

Somehow, somewhere inside of me I willed myself to bend my knees and jump. There was a sensation of the water rushing up to meet me, then submersion, then the incredulousness as I broke back through the surface of the water. I remember paddling to the ladder thinking "I DID IT!"

Cindy did it too. We laughed and shrieked at our accomplishments. Giving high fives had not yet come into vogue, but we would have slapped each other's hand silly if it had. On the way home, we both reminded our younger siblings (still Minnows, still Tadpoles) that we had jumped off the High Drive.

That jump is on my mind because we have come to the end of April, four months into a year already rushing along at breakneck pace, and I am once again feeling like I am climbing the ladder to the high dive. The week just starting is concert week, always an intense time in this household.

But this is not any old concert week. This is Big Concert week - the biggest of Warren's tenure as Executive Director, the biggest of 31 seasons of concert weeks. This is Chasing Light… week. It will be full of talks and special events and extra rehearsals and a reception midweek and, well, you get the picture. (If you don't, click here.)

"50 states. 58 orchestras. One remarkable composition." (I wrote that line, incidentally.)

Last year, the Symphony was chosen to take part in the Ford Made in America program, the largest composition consortium in history. As such, it will be performing Chasing Light…, an original composition by Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Joseph Schwantner, at its May 1 concert. Just being asked to participate in the program was a huge honor.

But wait, there's more!

Warren asked about the chances of having a residency with the composer. Despite being told the odds of receiving one were slim, Warren, being Warren, nonetheless put together an ambitious and creative proposal that tied together music, poetry, and the creative process of composition. Last July, he got the call telling him the Symphony had been selected to receive a residency with the composer.

Schwantner arrives in town Tuesday.

To say next week will be a full one is an understatement. To say this household will be stretched to the limits in terms of time and activities is also an understatement. As I type these words, Warren is in the shop, finishing reengineering his vibraphone, which he will play in the concert. Five feet away from me is a stand he built to hold four crotales needed for the piece. Beyond that in the front room are the metal frames of gong stands and trap tables. There is an impossibly large Chinese gong propped against the couch. I see a score on the arm of one chair; the triangle playing machine (which he invented for this concert) is just on the other side.

This is Chasing Light… Central.

I don't pretend that I have responsibilities and duties like Warren does this coming week. Oh, I'll be pitching in - proofreading, running errands, hauling instruments - throughout the week, just like many of his Board members. But the burden of this week falls on Warren, who goes to bed later and later each night and gets up earlier and earlier each day as the time winds down and the activities crank up.

But if Warren is on the high dive about to jump into the coming week, I am right behind him, next in line. When you are married to the Symphony like I am, you know that whatever the week holds in store for it and Warren, it also holds in store for me.

One summer long ago I learned all about climbing a ladder and leaping into thin air, hoping for the best. I learned I could do it; I learned I liked doing it. I did it again and again that summer.

From where I stand now, May 1 looks impossibly far away. I know, though, it will rush up with speed and intensity. I know that by this time next week, we will already be out of the pool, laughing and cheering.

It's time to jump.


Sharon said...

Wow. It sounds so exciting! I love orchestras, and the music, and to have it around you all the time? Sounds exhilirating and exhausting all at the same time!

I'm so excited for you and Warren. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity! Just remember to take a breather and rest when you are tired.

Loved the metaphor with the swimming. Jump in! But remember to come up for air! :)

April said...

Sharon--how funny! I was leaving a comment (about eating chocolate) on your blog as you were leaving one on mine!

This WILL be a big week. Stay tuned!

Ellen said...

Congrats to Warren (and to you, whom I'm sure had a hand in the application) for being awarded the composer's residency! I'm sure he'll bask in the man's presence. A pretty momentous week from beginning to end....wishing you could link a recording to this post. If there is one out there in cyberspace, please tell us how to access it!

April said...

Ellen, all I did was proofread. Warren is the creative ball of fire at the Symphony.

And yes, you CAN watch the concert. Live at
Go there now and you will see it is the featured upcoming community event. Or wait a few days and it will be archived at the same site (in face, you can see other Symphony concerts as well.)

I am the working poor. said...

Yor reminded me of my first uncoordinated dive when I took swim lesssons as a kid. It turned into some weird belly flop production. :)

Thank you for the link. I look forward to listening to this.

Jackie said...

Wow...your life is incredibly busy and full doing the things you both love. I love reading your words and I'm always inspired. I look forward to hearing about how everything went for you both.