I’ve finally travelled back to Memphis for the summer after a vey long year in Los Angeles. This, my first year of graduate school, has brought many opportunities and successes both on and off campus, and I am very thankful for them all. From playing principal bassoon on “The Rite of Spring” and “Firebird Suite”, to spotting celebrities (including getting a glimpse of Gustavo Dudamel), L.A. has truly proved itself to be, in many ways, the land of opportunity. At what price has all of this come, though? The University of Southern California pays for most of my bills (one way or another), so it’s not strictly a financial sacrifice that I’m referring to. The biggest thing I’ve learned this year is that the people make a place. My love for music is what called me out to the west coast, but that love has “stabbed me in the back” when it comes to my relationships back home – particularly my relationship with my fiancé. Don’t worry, we’re totally fine, but being in a long distance relationship certainly comes with challenges and risks. Despite it all I love it anyway and do its bidding – music is my Judas.
Gaga’s new song, “Judas”, has raised a lot of controversy amongst religious individuals around the world just from the title and opening lines. Who in their right (Christian) mind would be in love with Judas? He is, after all, the one who betrayed Jesus for a few pieces of silver. I guess it’s easy to be put off by it, but when you think about it, we all have a personal Judas. My interpretation of “Judas” is anyone or anything that keeps us from our happiest state of being, but you love that thing anyway. It’s a strong statement for me to say “music is my Judas”, because I love it and don’t want anyone to think that music has brought bad things to my life. I’m very thankful for my gifts, and would do nothing differently if I had the chance to go back in time. Despite it all, I would be lying if I said I loved music more than my friends, family, and fiancé. I couldn’t imagine my life without the bassoon, but part of the deal (right now anyway) is that I spend a lot of time away from home. Even if I were going to school in Memphis, much of my time would be spent in a practice room and not on my front porch with a cocktail, as I would like. I understand that my “Judas” could betray me at any audition, job interview, or performance, but I work and practice anyway. It’s actually a deeply rooted conversation I’ve been having with myself for the past several months, but for now I’ll leave it at that.
This Saturday I’m performing with the Memphis Repertory Orchestra, and one of the pieces is the very famous “Scheherazade” by Dmitri Rimsky-Korsakov. This work is based around the story of a woman (named Scheherazade) who was married to a king would killed off his wives due to a relationship gone bad years prior, in an effort to avoid heartbreak for a second time; he was betrayed by his own “Judas”. Knowing this, Scheherazade told him stories every night, but didn’t end them, so that she could live for another day to finish the tale. She left him cliffhangers every evening for 1001 nights until the king truly loved her. Even though she was verbally fighting for survival every night, I believe deep down inside she loved him – her own personal Judas. I love this piece, because the story is so beautiful, but it doesn’t hurt that there’s a great bassoon solo at the beginning of the second movement. J
We are all in love with Judas. Something or someone on this earth that we love dearly has the capability of destroying us. Think about what “Judas” you’re in love with, watch the music video that goes along with the song (it's brilliant), and come to see the MRO perform “Scheherazade” this weekend (info on my “Upcoming Activities page)! In the words of Lady Gaga, “I’ve learned love is like a brick, you can build a house or sink a dead body.”
By the way, does “McQueen-Smithers” sound as artistic and prestigious as “Rimsky-Korsakov”?