Good day on the ferry to Seattle ...
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 1999 6:40 PM
On the ferry today there was a young woman named Serena. She was playing an ancient and rather decrepit cello, playing Bach like Casals played it, and was sometimes playing as beautifully as I have ever heard the instrument played.
She had her maybe 2 year old daughter in a stroller and was playing looking directly into her eyes. Mind-blowingly beautiful moments when they connected. I was fascinated by the way she breathed as she played - she was breathing the lines as though she were singing them. It was a major component of how lyrically she played.
After the 2nd Bach piece I asked her about who had taught her to do that, because I have not seen other cellists play quite that way. She said her Russian teacher had shown her how to do it. She played one more Bach piece and then asked the audience what we wanted her to play next and suggested she might play a very difficult Hayden piece - the most difficult piece in her repertoire.
I advised that what was most important to us was for her to reach deep relaxation, and that she find her heart in the song. She started the piece while we were talking, to show me where the fingering and bowing were difficult, and then in mid stroke announced to everyone that she was doing it - and dove into Hayden focusing on relaxation - in spite of the very difficult
fingering. I was watching her right shoulder very intently as it seemed to be the center of tension in her bowing motion. At one point it almost froze and then exploded into an ecstasy of notes as she totally surrendered to the music.
We talked more after she finished the Hayden. She thanked me for talking about the need for the relaxation - said she had never played it so well. I suspect no one ever has.
She is riding the ferry playing in order to make the rent on her apartment - the baby's father has gone to Italy and this is her first month on her own.
I gave her all the money I had in my wallet
Port Townsend, WA