Dale Clevenger, former principal hornist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 2013, is playing with us this week. During our lunch break, I took advantage of an empty hall to practice and as I was working on the Dvorak Cello Concerto he came over to me and asked, "Do you like Jacqueline DuPre's recording?" I told him I did. "I recorded that with her. And played the piece many, many times with Rostropovich." We chatted a bit and as he walked away, I felt the presence of DuPre and Rostropovich trailing him, remaining in his wake, inspiring me.
And last night I had a lesson at 11pm with Brian Thornton, a cellist in the Cleveland Orchestra, who had played with us last month and offered to do a Skype lesson sometime. I tried calling his mobile phone through Skype as we were trying to connect, and he answered very excitedly. "Hi!" I said hello and there was a pause, so I clarified who I was. "Oh, you know it's funny for some reason my caller ID said it was Lynn Harrell." Oh no, it's me–that must have been a surprise to hear my voice instead. He worked with Lynn Harrell and his teaching and sound carry the influence. As he demonstrated the excerpts and concerto last night from thousands of miles away, I took in his sound, his vibrato, his phrasing, a voice and musicality passed on to him through time and care.
Such a powerful thing, these traces of people that linger in others. What a gift that in some form these people can be passed along to us, somehow embodied beyond their physical presence, embodied in another. Perhaps one is aware that they carry another within them, perhaps they transmit their essence simply from their ardor for that person's artistry. Or perhaps we bring it into ourselves from the love of it, and it becomes what we share in our own being with the world. What do we love? What do we make a part of us?