It is 2:30 am on Christmas Eve 2014 as I write this. My day began with me asking a friend with whom I had lunch plans for a raincheck, because I got up with a thundering migraine. My body was finally rebelling against me for the week I had put it through!
Last week Knoxville Choral Society and The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra once again collaborated with several other ensembles for the annual Clayton Holiday Concerts. They traditionally take place the last weekend before Christmas, and the week leading up to them has us all rehearsing every night except Wednesday, pulling late hours and, for those of us who work day jobs, rising at our normal times to get to work. The week is grueling and exhausting, culminating in 4 concerts over 3 days…but for me, and for many others, it gives us much more than it takes from us. For some people, it is the thing that finally puts us into the Christmas spirit.
This year’s concerts were also the final holiday outings with the KSO’s outgoing conductor, Maestro Lucas Richman, so there were poignant memories of concerts past, appeciation expressed for the collaboration between the KSO and KCS and, as is my tradition, pictures and brief conversations with the maestro. This year was doubly sweet for me because my cousin Katherine shared the stage with us as a member of the Webb Madrigal Singers. I was thrilled to share a stage with Katherine and her talented friends, and even more thrilled to have the chance to introduce her to the maestro before he leaves the KSO. I had my friend Elizabeth snap their picture together with the hope that it’s a weekend that Katherine will always remember. (The picture below was made at supper between Saturday shows.)
In conversations on social media and in person, many of us said that we are going to miss the maestro, and he expressed his gratitude for our words. I had the chance to tell him that I don’t “sling praise around much, but when I see excellence in my life, I do appreciate it.” And yes, I said it with just those words. Maestro knows by now that I am a goofball and “what you see is what you get” with me. Mama passed along her gift for colorful communication to me (for better or for worse, I’m afraid!).
Thre is so much mediocrity in the world, and I am as guilty as anyone of not always striving to attain my full potential in every area of my life. I like to believe that I give my best effort to everything I do, but I know better. And even on days when I give my best, that “best” is often not very good. In music and in life, I need to meditate on those things that are good, noble, praiseworthy…and to give thanks to, and for, the people who remind me what excellence looks like.