“Why are people so scared of moving house?” I wondered, as I sat at the kitchen table staring at the light of two flickering candles, cradling a cup of tea in my hands. “I’m not!” my husband responded from two rooms away. “Why not?” “Those who fear moving house lack intelligence,” he maintained. Just thinking about such a statement made my head spin. How callous, I thought. Outrageous! Insulting! GENERALISING! And, then I thought again.
During lockdown in Switzerland when people complained about being bored, I have to admit, their complaint chaffed at my patience. Being politely asked to work from home, yet still having the ability to go for walks, eat and cook food, read books, or shop online for anything you desire — music, films, craft projects in a box, you name it — does not equate boredom to me. When people bemoaned the closure of restaurants, concert halls, clubs, and other places where we humans like to gather, I did not feel that those of us who were bored were, equally, compassionate for the financial survival of the people who are servers or bartenders in those restaurants, those who maintain or play in the concert halls, or those who spin the decks.
When I embarked on envisioning an image that would capture my child and I, an image that could summarize the greatest challenge that I now face being a mother, with one word to encapsulate it, I didn’t realise what kind of conversation it would create along the way. I understood from an early age that I might face discrimination, coming from a multi-ethnic background of refugees and Shoah survivors who encompass cultures and traditions from Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. However, the greater number of my experiences were privileged. Everywhere in the world that I went, I was met with courtesy and respect. I was welcomed as an artist and treated as a human being. That is, until I got pregnant, until I became a parent.
"Urlaub" hat, wie das Wort "Ausgang", für mich einen seltsamen Klang, es setzt Gefangenschaft voraus. – Endo Anaconda
An ex-boyfriend of mine is Austrian. He lived in Berne for many years. One day, he brought home a Stiller Has album. It was called “Moudi”.
My ex-boyfriend was a two-timer. He probably heard about the group from a Bernese girl.
The album was good. At least I got something out of his wandering eye.
For decades now, I have heard it said that interest in classical music is on the decline, to have lost its importance and popularity, to no longer be “useful”. In 2012, the National Endowment for the Arts (USA) reported that in that year, only 8.8% of the population had attended a classical music concert. My interest was piqued by these statistics, so I did a bit of my own digging. When I asked friends what they thought about classical music, apart from positive things, they felt that classical music was elitist, academic, dull, uninspired, a status symbol as opposed to an art form. Or, I found this one amusing — “too long.” Too long for what? “Just — too long!"
Recently, while running errands with my son, we passed a shoe store and my son unexpectedly stopped to look into the window. This is unusual for him because he has just begun to walk and explore the concept of forward motion. And so, he is usually running on his tiptoes, shrieking in delight at his own locomotion. My son is of a very sunny nature. He is cheerful, curious, fun, and very present. This latter trait forces me to drop everything and be just as present as he is. What he is not, is someone who stops in his tracks to look at something, whilst processing an impression that he can’t apprehend yet.
As I was leaving the house, I grabbed my coat. The weather seemed undecided. It reminded me of Ireland, of home, four seasons in the space of an hour. I stepped onto the pavement and the door swung closed behind me. I sunk my hand into one of my coat pockets to deposit my house keys then rooted around and felt something way down in there. It was a pair of earplugs.
When an aspiring singer and the 19-year-old daughter of a musician friend of mine mentioned that she had never spent a penny on music in her entire life, I stopped what I was doing to listen. She quickly followed with the remark that she rarely listens to any song for more than 9 seconds unless its “really really good”. Her remark released a murmuration. I considered 9 seconds. Is it really possible to recognise a song and pass judgement on it in just 9 seconds?
13 March 2020: I remember standing on a street corner in a neighbourhood of Zurich with Lukas Bärfuss. The day had started off bright and sunny, and we had spent it working out details of a new collaboration. When it was time for me to return home, he accompanied me to the tram stop to make sure I caught the correct connection. We then noticed a never-ending stream of people walking, all in the same down-hill direction, all heading home to begin lockdown.
The first sounds after the most recent lockdown. An atelier on the other side of town. In it, an untuned piano, audience chairs stacked and dusty after a year of hibernation. An unedited rendition, not perfect in its delivery, but full of love and gratitude to make music with another musician after such a long time of separation. My playing is raw, in service to Beethoven and Vera, the pianist performing here. Full of love, and commitment, in resonance with one another, holding on to belief in music and people - that is what I feel we can and should offer music, our audiences, and ourselves. Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata, second movement, played with Vera Kooper in a music space in Biel, Switzerland on 13 March, exactly one year after my family and I went into lockdown.