I had such an amazing experience tonight. It was one of those moments of total connection between the present people around me and the past people in my life – and my emotions of all those times – that linked everything into one intense NOW moment.
Jan and I were at the beautiful home of friends. Long-time acquaintances of Jan and his family, they are warm and welcoming to me and I have found a contentment in their friendship that has been most appreciated as I adjust to my new life.
We were enjoying coffee and conversation after a delicious dinner, and the subject of music and study came up. Their 17-year old daughter had studied the flute when she was younger, and in answer to my curiosity she brought out her old flute and her music books.
As a flute teacher, it was interesting for me to see what books and melodies and music the students here learn from, especially as I anticipate establishing my own teaching studio once I get more comfortable with the language.
After looking over the music, I examined her flute, also curious about the instruments preferred here in Norway. (For my teacher friends: it was a Yamaha, still in good condition after several years of time in its case.)
The flute has been a part of my life for almost 40 years now, but for many reasons I haven’t practiced since arriving in Norway. Holding her flute FIT; it felt as if I had come home.
And of course, our friends wanted me to play something. Jan asked me to share the music with them that I had shared with him last May when I played a little Grieg by a church on Osterøy.
The loudest thought to run through my head was GRIEG? I AM NOT WORTHY!!
Oh, I haven’t mentioned: our friends’ home is situated on a mountain that overlooks Nordåsvatnet, a salt water lake. Troldhaugen is across that lake:
Troldhaugen was Edvard Grieg’s summer home – Edvard Grieg, the most famous Norwegian composer (1843 – 1907) who called Bergen home, and found much of his inspiration here. I felt it would be almost sacrilegious for an American to play Grieg where, if you listened very carefully, you just might catch an echo of Grieg composing that very music.
But then something else that is so deep in my soul that it IS me spoke out. I wrote about another connection with this “something else” – a spiritual visit to Monhegan Island, Maine. And so, standing in their acoustically ringing home with massive windows that overlook the lake and Troldhaugen, I shared a little gentle improv on “Amazing Grace”.
My eyes were closed, and I felt the familiar link with the hearts and souls of the people around me. It wasn’t my playing, but that connection through the music, which moved all of us. It was one of those defining moments that only music can provide, spanning a generation and language and culture and bonding us together.
And for me, sharing the deepest part of me with my eyes closed and heart full, I could have been back on those Maine rocks overlooking the Atlantic ocean with my dear friend Monica …
or in my church in Maryland with its many wonderful people sharing a loved hymn accompanied by our handbell choir …
or opening myself up to my future husband through his first introduction to my music …
I felt such union with all of my musically emotional experiences.
So hard to capture in words, but so very real that I can still feel it in that quiet, inner part of me.
Then I played a few bars of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” just to lighten things up and inject a little of my AMERICA into the moment. And you know, I really wanted my piccolo at that point!