Lamentations on an Anniversary

The year has been, well, different. Sitting down to reflect on the anniversary of my last in person performance: March 6, 2020, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Marilyn Crispell and Susie Ibarra. It was the beginning of a short touring period with a new repertoire for a new ensemble. None of the rest ever happened. Everyone has their own stories just like this one.

Except, on thinking of this anniversary, I opened the paper the other day to read about the anniversary of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. He was killed while jogging in a neighborhood. Because he was Black. Devastating news that was followed by the killings of Breona Taylor and George Floyd and so many others. I go jogging often in my own area and the most that can happen is a run in with an inconsiderate neighbor with an aggressive dog off leash. I don’t get shot. What this country has dealt out through 400 years of racism is simply unconscionable. And now we have a global pandemic that exposes even more the inequities and the suffering of thousands of our neighbors. There’s no comparison of sufferings. We all, especially white Americans, have an imperative to try to understand and to work against the racism and support the push toward healing in every way we can.

And all the while, our own work continues. It’s a year when much activity was shut down, but not our human connections and our growth. The imperative of the call to our work as artists is set in stark relief against the rank unfairness and tragic consequences of our actions as a country, as a world. It’s different.

Continuing to make music, now in all sorts of new ways, is a bridge to all my friendships and families and communities. The shock of no travel and no theaters is still revealing its wounds. All the while, we learn new skills. New associations. New ways of relating to each other. New ways of healing.

On a dark anniversary, it’s important we take stock of how we got here, what work remains to be done, and how lucky we survivors are.