I still cannot believe I had yet another opportunity to play such wonderful music in such a beautiful place with such incredible people. I played solo Bach in a church built in 902, played Shostakovich sonata at a late-night soiree, and premiered a powerful piece by Kyle Henkle. Not to mention all the amazing performances I got to experience as an audience member! Zodiac Festival will always have a special place in my heart...
Last summer I was invited to Zodiac for the first time and had no idea what to expect. As my family waved me goodbye at the airport, I wondered if there would even be anyone there on the other side to pick me up. I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. Nestled in a lush and welcoming mountain village, I was urged to strive for the highest quality of music making ever in my life. I swam out into the Mediterranean Sea as far as I could, looked back at miniature people along the promenade, looked below me at the deepest purest blue, and finally threw my head back and learned to let go. I left Nice exuding the essence of joy and hope. I left a piece of me there that summer, and I don't think I can ever stop looking for it.
This year, I went looking for that piece, looking to relive the wonder, naively believing it would be there waiting for me, unchanged. I forgot that I came with a heart heavy with impending adulthood, academic exhaustion, some personal sadness, and uncertainty for the world. The mountain sun still warmed my back, the sea still cooled me, the music still lifted me, but I was looking for something I wasn't ready to see. Or maybe I was offered something I wasn't ready to receive.
On our last night, as we celebrated the completion of our final concert, we were punched in the gut with horrific news from Nice. And then we gathered and made more music. The world fed my heavy heart, but everyone around me brought me to the surface. In the end, my comrades on this journey were the ones who centered me. In long, late night conversations, in knowing smiles, in unabashed laughter, in a quietly shared glass of wine, in collaborating on a brand new piece of music, we found newness and I left even more of myself.
And that's ok.
While I don't think I could stop looking if I tried, I will also never stop giving. I don't need to reclaim those pieces, because they aren't in the place, but with the people who found them in me.
My Zodiac people, I cannot thank you enough for bringing so much life and humanity to our time together. I cannot wait until the next time we can share life and music with each other.