“To pay attention: this is our endless and proper work.”

- Mary Oliver

The house is dancing with visions of sugarplums. Well, sort of.

It being July, I suppose this needs explaining.

My writing sabbatical began officially on September 22, 2008. For the first time in many years, I embarked on a year without playing the viola for a living. Since 1989 I have called Halifax my home and the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium stage my office, where, for nineteen years I have played in Symphony Nova Scotia’s viola section. The time was right for me to try my hand at writing full-time, hence the sabbatical.

Playing any musical instrument full-time requires a lot of physical stamina, so I made plans to keep in shape during my writing year. Daily practice, chamber music with friends, and the occasional freelance gig ought to have done the trick. But things don’t always happen as planned; what with my time spent writing this past year and an unexpected injury, my viola took a rest. For months.

Now I need to get back in shape. The 2009-10 symphony symphony season begins in September, which gives me a few months to work at it. Matters have improved to the point where I’m able to play again, so I’ve been happily reacquainting myself with some old friends. Solo chops are one thing, but I need also to get back to orchestral playing if I’m to be ready for day-long rehearsals and strenuous concerts. It occurred to me that our annual run of Nutcracker performances provides a terrific workout, and would be the ideal thing to build up my stamina for the coming season. Now I’m working away at one of Tchaikovsky’s greats, a little bit at a time.

Which explains why the house is dancing with sugarplum fairies in July.


Categories: General.