Sunday, April 01, 2007

thoughts on solitude

Whether you are surrounded by the singing of a lamp or the sounds of a storm, by the breathing of the evening or the sighing of the sea, there is a vast melody woven of a thousand voices that never leaves you and only occasionally leaves room for your solo. To know when you have to join in, that is the secret of your solitude, just as it is the art of true human interaction: to let yourself take leave of the lofty words to join in with the one shared melody.

- Rilke, The Poet's Guide to Life, p. 84

I've spent a good part of the last 6 years preparing for and taking auditions, and it has always seemed like one of the loneliest processes imaginable - all those long hours alone in the practice room, struggling with the intentions of dead masters, then the solitary trek to an unfamiliar city, the lonely hotel room... all leading up to those brief but delirious few minutes on stage, utterly alone before a big black screen. And then of course there's the deepest, most difficult solitude, during the hours and days that follow, trying to piece together what happened and make some sort of sense of the whole thing. Surely there was a lesson in there somewhere - but if we are to find it, the only way is look inward.

In some ways this Calgary audition has been the polar opposite for me: I sought out a lot of people as I was preparing, to play for, talk to, and seek out guidance. And during the audition itself I definitely took an approach that I was going to perform to an audience, create music in an open and welcoming way, and not plunge into my interior turmoil! After the audition too, as people gathered around to introduce themselves and congratulate me, it was a strange inversion of my usual wandering off into the lonely streets. Suddenly there were all these former acquaintances and friendly strangers, seemingly ready to adopt me into their family.

All this makes me realize how in a sense I was never alone. There have always been people around, encouraging and guiding me, and I hope to thank and write about them all in the coming weeks. From all those anonymous bass players (and others!) who have been commenting here on hella frisch; to Danny Matsukawa, Tommy Freer, and Charles Carleton, all of whom have given me great audition wisdom and advice in the last few weeks; to my awesome New World Symphony bass section, who are constantly inspiring me with their playing and astounding me with their fart jokes; to Johanne, the French-Canadian maid who cleaned my hotel room the other day and served as my last mock audition committee (whether or not she realized it), listening to my Bach and Mozart as she emptied my trash cans.

It seems like there are way too many people to thank them each individually, but I figure I should at least try and make an attempt. Since all of the sounds, words, and ideas that helped me along the way were offered to me by other people, I feel as though I won't really have achieved a success until I can pay all that wisdom forward, and offer those ideas to others. In a certain sense, I think, we are all alone, as Rilke writes, and we all have to confront that solitude - but it's a different sort of solitude than I had maybe always imagined. Even in the loneliest times, we're always surrounded by those other voices, that great big melody of emotions and ideas and insights that, if we're quiet and patient enough, we can all access and listen, and maybe even find a moment to join in.


Lydia said...

Matt, I just read your last post, and certainly I have never experienced such honest vicarious joy when I heard the good news! I knew you would make it! And welcome back to the northern lands. I am certain your situation could not be any better (you get to live in Canada!).


Anonymous said...

Congratulations... I joined you after the NY Times article.... best wishes for a good run in Calgary!