This past summer was not a cornucopia of bliss. Yes, I connected with a lot of extraordinary people over my break from school, and enjoyed my annual fill of local corn, tomatoes, and outdoor chlorine. But I was grappling with what I can only describe as an existential dilemma, a foggy point in my path. Just as I was on the verge of attaining a bit of clarity, there was an unanticipated family tragedy—the sudden death of my beloved sister-in-law Liz, one of the lights of my life. Jim and I devoted August to reminiscence and healing. We’re still working on that. Saying Kaddish at Yom Kippur this year was intense.
At the end of August, however, there was a true ray of light: we had a visit from Corinne Winters, whom you may remember from the Caramoor Spanish Gold concert in 2011. She came out to Long Island to work on a CD of Spanish songs we’re going to record next May for GPR Recordings (with Glen Roven as producer). We got to do something very few musicians get to do these days: rehearse for a project that is still nine months in the future. What a balm to play Montsalvatge, Toldrá, and Turina while bathed in that beautiful sea air—and without the looming pressure of a performance or the intrusion of a microphone. Corinne is a dream colleague. She has an opulent voice that can shake the rafters, or float, or do both at the same time—over a two-and-a-half octave span. Her voice is amazingly free and colorful, almost a guilty pleasure like Teuscher chocolate. And she is lovely to spend time with, as sweet and generous as they come. I made Corinne sing Montsalvatge’s “Canço amorosa” every day because Tomás Garcés’s poem talks about taking a boat ride at the end of summer: “What happiness at your side/To see the land receding/And to follow in the August nights/The stars that make us dizzy with pleasure.” (I always take an unwritten tempo stretch over that phrase.)
After the summer’s rocky beginning, I hadn’t expected to be dizzy with pleasure. My goals were less exalted: stabilize, find my compass. Thanks to music and poetry, and one special human voice, I remembered the true joy of life. I am deeply excited about this CD with Corinne Winters, and glad that we still have eight months to follow those August nights, even in the dead of winter.