Week One

A lot has happened since I last posted here. One year ago today, I was offered the position of concertmaster of the Newport Symphony Orchestra. It was something I really wanted, and was delighted to accept. Next weekend will mark the final concert of my first season with them. It’s been a whirlwind year, where I played many solos, big and small, and have had friends and family from near and far enjoy and support my big career boost.

I’m a lucky kid.

Even bigger than that is the addition that T and I welcomed into our family the January before receiving the job offer. That addition is currently asleep in her crib in the next room, and I can see her squirm on the baby monitor every few minutes as she finds her most comfortable sleeping position. (She takes after her mother in that way.)

I knew for a long time that I wanted to have a child, and was therefore able to do my usual bit of pondering and overthinking on the subject. My biggest fear wasn’t the pregnancy (which wasn’t super great) or the labor (which was awful), it was the idea that once I became a parent, I might lose some sense of myself. As my many private diaries and online blog posts can attest to, I’ve spent quite a bit of time discovering and crafting a personality for myself that I’m pretty comfortable with. I like knowing this Casey, and I’m protective of her character. In anticipation of this wonderful creature making an appearance, I gave myself some latitude and grace of figuring out who I was. I even designed my calendar to allow myself some time to discover myself anew.

Turns out… I didn’t need it. I’m still me. In a new role, certainly, but the facets of my personality I hold most dear are still there. My discovery time has been finding out who I am as a parent, and getting to know the newest member of our family. (Spoiler alert: we made an incredible human.)

So now what? My character has stepped in and demanded that I keep growing musically, as that has dependably informed my growth in every other subset of my life. I’m not really sure what that looks like. I tried to start the 100 days of practice project (and I still might), but I attempted the beginning of it when the kiddo was around 10 weeks old, and that proved to be too daunting. I’ve got ideas of publishing, recitaling, podcasting… and only a finite amount of hours to see them through.

So I’m trying this. 100 weeks of practice. It gives me a goal to work towards, it’s long term, and it will take up an appropriate footprint of my time. By the time it’s done, nearly two years will have passed. The idea of what might happen in the next two years is thrilling. And the opportunity I’m creating of focusing on gratitude for my music and centering for the upcoming week is something that my beleaguered mind is yearning for.

This week’s practice centered around the Willamette Master Chorus’s production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, a fantastic and moving oratorio centered around the biblical narrative. I find my mind replaying several of the movements over and over again. I love the nuance he creates in the composition, and I love the little glimmers that hint at other Mendelssohn pieces. Chord structures reminiscent of Midsummer Night’s Dream and his string octet made their way in there.

Physically, this piece is a HAUL. And while I had such a lovely time playing with this ensemble, I was grateful that I treated myself to the Planet Fitness black card that includes unlimited use of the massage hydrobeds. I marched right into my gym still in my concert clothes and plopped myself down before I went home today; my muscles were grateful.

And WHYYYY does Mendelssohn manage to write something so intuitive and violinistic EXCEPT for No. 20, which closes out the first half of the oratorio? That movement is like a Kreutzer etude. (“But less fun,” as my astute stand partner observed.) It sounds incredible. It’s and oddly placed movement that’s just plain difficult. It also gave me the most frustrating practice session I’ve had in a very long time.

I’m grateful this week for a body which has learned to relax through these tough performances. I clearly need to start stretching parties in the orchestra green room much more often.

I’m looking forward to practicing Tchaikovsky this week for the aforementioned Newport rehearsal next weekend.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope to catch you next week.

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