For those who suspect classical musicians are a different breed, I have solid scientific evidence. The other evening, I was playing a concert with violinist Soovin Kim and cellist Peter Stumpf. In a distant (15-20 miles) suburb, cellist Andres Diaz and violinist Chee Yun were also playing a concert. After our concert, Soovin and I parted company with Peter, who went home to drop off his cello. Soovin and I then decided, on a whim, to go directly to the grocery store for post-concert treats…

We wandered the lonely aisles, selecting the usual gourmet fare: an Entenmann’s danish, white peaches, a frozen pizza, baked Cheetos… and there at the checkout counter, we ran into Peter, who had just then run into Andres and Chee Yun! We were like migratory birds, destined for groceries, magnetically and mysteriously drawn from distant climes to a single Kroger at a particular hour… What Beethovenian machination of fate was at work?

One further oddity: Soovin’s and my white jacket and tie drew some amused remarks from some 30-ish ladies (“nice tuxes”)… who then kept waving at us in the parking lot, kind of desperately, as if we were soldiers going off to war. Soovin thinks they were trying to “pick us up,” but my theory is they were like minor divinities, somehow associated with the fateful musical convergence, trying to deliver us some omen or message which we will never, ever know. As Rilke says, “we must live the questions, and someday our lives will become the answer.” Or something like that.

Following up, finally, on the narcissistic theme from the last post, I went to Barnes & Noble (boo hiss) to pick up some Montale poetry which had been very inspiring … (texts for an Elliot Carter piece which I just heard). Alas, there was no Montale in the Bloomfield Hills B&N, as I was informed by a pierced, patchouli-scented aide; but next to where he might have been (again fate) was Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which I drew out of the shelf to refresh my memory of the tale of Narcissus. What a beautiful tale! Especially the encounter of Narcissus (the boy in love with his own image), and Echo (the girl who can do nothing but echo what other people say)… what a spectacular, symbolic, heavy, association-rich episode this is in the tortured history of the Western mind! And super-fraught with associations for us migratory classical musician-birds: we are forced to echo pieces written long ago; in one sense, we are as helpless as Echo, we can only say what “has been said;” but what we get out of them, the return of our encounter with them, is always at least partly ourselves. We cannot help seeing and feeling ourselves, reflected in these pieces. These pieces (great masterworks, texts of seemingly infinite association and possibility) are like mirrors to us, like Narcissus’ fatal pond… mirrors against which we cannot help but feel insecure, vulnerable, incomplete.

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  1. Denk's secret admirer
    Posted June 20, 2005 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Let’s see– should I continue to sit here and stare at the adorable photograph of Jeremy with what looks like a sunset in the background (nice touch), or should I be just a tad more productive and go back to figuring out those headache-inducing Carter rhythms? Hmm… this is a tough one, although admittedly, at this particular moment one option seems infinitely more appealing than the other.
    You sure are cute Denk! Lovely tender blue eyes, etc etc.

    Oh oh almost forgot, love your blog.
    OK, NOW pressing publish

  2. Anonymous
    Posted August 16, 2005 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Eu ñ entendi nada porque sou brasileira, ñ falo inglÊs, meu nome é LISLEMARI DENK.Te achei por acaso na net.Se caso vc vier a retornar escreva em português flw?? bjus.

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