Our after-rehearsal quartet rehearsal started a little later than scheduled because the violinists had to go downstairs for some reason. Language was beyond us in communicating the explanation, but when the second violinist finally sat down to rehearse, she looked at everyone in the group and said something in Japanese, and then tried to say it in English for me, "Late, you wait, I'm sorry..." She wanted to know how to say it in English, so I said that we usually would say something like, "I'm sorry I made you wait." It felt strange to tell her how to say something I didn't think she had any need to say so I immediately rescinded it say, "It's no problem." I don't know why she was late, but if she had had an alternative to inconveniencing us, I'm sure she would have taken it.
The language exchange sparked the first violinist's memory. "Ahhh! Kasuburanca wa...lookingu....Ahhhh! I don't remember!" She had seen Casablanca recently and had learned a new English phrase. Oh yeah, "'Here's looking at you, kid,'" I said, wondering what that really means and how one would translate it into Japanese.
We concluded our language exchange for the time being and began to rehearse. After a return to the rigidity and anonymity of an orchestra rehearsal today, after three weeks of singing and playing solo music, I enjoyed the freedom of a chamber music rehearsal, of singing with one another, of playing our voices together. And I enjoyed making sense of Japanese through context, of learning what was said about a passage after hearing it played differently the next time, of having the need to more fully convey my musical thoughts through my playing, of finding this space where words can be lost.