The Heart of a Woman (Alice Philipp, 2020) @alicetookmypicture

I had an epiphany this week. It happened in the first of two recording sessions for my upcoming concert program for our (currently all-digital) Music at Noon series at Laurier. Normally a situation that would engender a significant amount of anxiety and self-flagellation, I found such joy in making music together with my colleague, pianist-partner-in-crime and best friend, Anna Ronai, that I felt like I was flying. We were making music, together, in a beautifully resonant space. It was glorious.

So here’s the thing: some of you who have been following this space know that I have been doing meditation online pretty regularly (with some lapses!) since last June. I begin to notice more and more how I have become more self-compassionate, self-caring and self-affirming. I am less reactive (though I am still prone to ranting…alas! I am not perfect, nor will I ever be…). I feel much more equipped to accept situations as they are without letting every little thing stress me out. And perhaps not surprisingly (though it is to me!), this has spilled over into my creative process. I have been so grateful for every rehearsal I’ve been able to have with Anna on this program, which we have carefully curated to have meaning for both of us. It hasn’t mattered to me whether the rehearsals were virtual or in-person–although “in-person” has taken on an almost spiritual significance in this time of pandemic. Just to make music, however imperfectly, has been such a gift.

So it was with this new understanding that I entered that performing space with a lightness that was unfamiliar to me. I was surprised that the presence of multiple cameras rather than an audience didn’t faze me. In fact, it galvanized me. I imagined–even SAW–people in the room, out in the cyber universe who loved me and wanted to hear what we had to say. I found myself communicating intensely with the camera, as well as simply living in the music and deeply enjoying the feeling of collaborating with my musical soulmate. In that moment, rather than just hoping for it or talking about it, I realized: I TOO CAN BE FREE. And I was. Let it be imprinted on my heart from here on in.