Ever since the DSO went on tour to New York a couple of weeks ago, I've had Ives on the brain. Despite some of the inherit challenges involved with playing his music, I'm glad to say that I know a little bit more about this American composer that sometimes goes overlooked. (Plus, being in New York again was really crazy but a lot of fun - I made it back to Detroit with all my fingers!) I was first exposed to Ives as an undergrad in a Music History since 1800 class through a short song called "The Cage". Here are the lyrics to this song:
A leopard went around his cage
from one side back to the other side;
he stopped only when the keeper came around with meat;
A boy who had been there three hours
began to wonder, “Is life anything like that?”
I've been very fortunate to be able to do a fair amount of traveling in my career so far, experiencing different parts of our country and world from the perspective of not just a visitor, but someone who claimed those places as a home away from home. It's started to bother me that this may not always be the case, and I'll be like that animal trapped in a cage. Even if this cage is tenure in a great orchestra (which I'd be very grateful for, of course) it's scary for me to think that my roots will be firmly grounded in one place, instead of loosely connected to several.
On the other hand, maybe this IS a cage I'm trapped in. My money is fine right now, but whether it's a gig in this place or an audition in that place my travels definitely run parallel to getting more of it. Those little pieces of meat here and there keep me afloat, and I run towards them just like that leopard. It's like I can't decide which is scarier - pacing a cage with great benefits and fame in the same city for the rest of my life or pacing a cage with travel, fun, and the uncertainty of where the next check is coming from. I'm sure the cage is just a state of mind, but both outcomes represent what I look forward to and what I fear. Are you in a cage right now? Maybe we need to try to kill the keeper and steal his keys so that we can escape...
Don't forget that today is the anniversary of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"! Have you picked out the virgin you want to sacrifice tonight?