For me, the best things about summer are often the spontaneous events that can happen just because we are often feeling less pressured than usual. One such event occurred last week when my husband and I and a couple of friends went to hear my daughter play in a nearby town park as part of a summer music festival. (She is to the far left in the photo above, playing the violin.)
Christine, my daughter, has been playing the violin since third grade. She was a natural and as time passed she progressed enough to become a key player in her school orchestra. Then her life interfered. She had to have her second open-heart surgery at age 13 (her first one took place at age 5), just as she was about experiencing the “high” of becoming an eighth grader. Only weeks after the second surgery, she developed chronic fatigue syndrome and was unable to attend school for much of her sophomore through senior years. She was home-schooled, and, of course, she was unable to participate regularly in the high-school orchestra.
I won’t go into the dreary details of how abysmally her high-school orchestra director treated her when she was able to participate, but basically she was “punished” for her absences. She almost gave up the violin in despair.
Years later, after two years of college on LI, she left town to move to Santa Cruz, CA where she enrolled in a community college with an excellent music program. There, she timidly picked up her violin again, met her first serious boyfriend who played the cello, and went on to play in the college orchestra and several chamber ensembles. Sadly, she was destined to have yet another open-heart surgery at age 21. Following her recovery from the third open-heart surgery, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz, where she again joined the orchestra. In her senior year, We were proud parents who traveled 3000 miles to witness her participation in her university orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem.
During her years at UC Santa Cruz, Christine widened her musical exposure by taking classes in an Uzbek music ensemble and a mariachi ensemble. She eventually was invited to join a university-based Mariachi performance group as one of their violinists. One of her proudest moments was playing onstage with that group at a university arts festival in full Mariachi regalia!
Seven years after her move to California, she graduated UC Santa Cruz and was facing her fourth open-heart surgery. Although she would have loved nothing more than to be able to continue to live in Santa Cruz, finding a job was next to impossible and the cost of living was exorbitant. She came home to LI to await her surgery. Meanwhile, she joined a local college orchestra as a community participant and played violin for them for several years. Her participation was interrupted by her surgery, which turned out to be two open-heart surgeries within three months (that’s another story!). But this time, her orchestra director welcomed her back warmly and she continued to play with them for a while longer.
Two years ago she decided she needed a break from playing in the orchestra, but by no means took a break from her involvement with music. She continued a musical activity she had been pursuing on the side for nearly eight years. She had first become interested in the musical saw after she first heard it played by a California musician eight years earlier. Santa Cruz is the only other place she has encountered musical saw musicians. When she returned home to LI, she discovered a musical saw player online who lives in Astoria, Queens and performs internationally. We began attending her performances and annual saw festival in Astoria and, of course, Christine next took up the musical saw as an instrument. Ironically, We have now attended many of her performances in the annual Saw-players festival held in Queens, NY. She has fallen in love with the musical saw and hopes to soon become a musical saw “busker.”
Christine’s love of music is deep and enduring. So it was with great excitement we went to hear her perform this past week with the new group she has now appeared with several times. Rain threatened the evening, but never transpired. Instead, we sat among fellow music lovers in their lawn chairs next to one of LI’s most beautiful harbors in Northport, watching our amazing daughter once again doing what she loves…playing with other musicians.