Musicians are a transient breed. Gigs come and go. Our presence is almost as ephemeral as the music that we make. One second it is everything, it consumes us, it drowns our minds and bodies, and the next moment, it is gone. Concerts, ceremonies, recitals, weddings… We enter stage right, play, and exit stage left.
However, this transient way of life allows us to meet a multitude of different people that we would otherwise never come in contact with. I have been welcomed into the special events of many peoples’ lives with generous and open arms. The performances at the Temple B’nai Israel of Kalamazoo are further proof of this. The first time I performed there was back in September for a musical service along side fellow cellist Warren Oja, Prof. emerita Phyllis Rappeport, Prof. Carl Ratner, Dr. Barry Ross, and Prof. Brad Wong. The most recent event was for the temple’s Yom Kippur service with pianist Ahmed Anzaldua and violinist Jacob Olbrot. Ahmed and I play together in WMU’s new music ensemble and Jacob is a colleague from the Kalamazoo Kids in Tune and Kalamazoo Suzuki Academy.
What strikes me about both of the Bloch Jewish Prayer and Bruch’s rendition of the Kol Nidre are their deeply expressive melodies. Phrasing and musicality are dictated by imitation of human voice, specifically, the cantor. They are pieces that really stay with you after the performance and, if it is not too bold to conjecture, I think that they are meant to linger. Like the sacred words of any of the world’s religions, their meaningful and poetic nature inspires us far beyond the moment. Perhaps then the temporal language of music is not so transient. Music, based on traditions hundreds of years old, is passed down through many generations. And as musicians we are the channels through which these echoes may pass. We are its caretakers and also its beneficiaries.
Thus, I must say a special thanks to the Temple B’nai Israel of Kalamazoo and to all of the great artists that I have been able to perform with.