To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame,
to maintain this ecstasy,
is success in life.
- Walter Pater
A few years ago my buddy Scott Ordway wrote me a totally amazing viola sonata which I filed away in the "I'll learn this someday" pile. Before I knew it, a violist I had never met - Jessica Meyer - recorded the piece and I immediately got a complex: I'm not that good, I could never play it that well, why should I bother?
This mentality wasn't specific to Ordway's sonata - these were increasingly becoming my feelings towards any musical challenge, I'm not good enough.
Fortunately, last spring I got an email from Scott introducing Jessica and I to each other...
I'm introducing you because a) you're both violists, b) you've both expressed interest in meeting the other at one point or another, c) you're two of my coolest friends / artistic collaborators, and d) you have similar souls. Minus the 3000 mile difference, I'm pretty sure you'd be besties.
After a few conversations with Jessica, I no longer had a complex, I had a friend. She is able to dose out wisdom that is practical and nurturing, with just enough ass kicking to keep me motivated.
Around the same time that I was getting amped up about performing again, I met pianist and dalcroze specialist, Aaron Butler. Aaron not only provided the wonderful quote that started this entry, he was also game to learn obscure viola sonatas with me from 3000 miles away. We performed the Ordway Sonata in November at Classical Revolution NYC, and am looking forward to some PDX performances this spring. Not only that, I am chomping at the bit for more - Clarke, Shostakovich, Bach, and even Jessica's own piece "Duende".
The admiration goes both ways, Jessica has been spreading the word about me as an inspirational organizer in the Journal of the American Viola Society, and recommended me for a panel of "artists as change agents" for a conference in NYC next month.
"When I look around at the classical music field today, I notice time and time again that those who are successful are the ones who can consistently create work for themselves and others while connecting those around them to the music they care most about. Regardless of the constant murmurings about “the death of classical music”, people are still inspired by our music on a daily basis because of folks who are doggedly out there, meaningfully engaging their audiences and finding ways to create new ones. They are out there teaming up with like-minded colleagues to keep our music alive and well. People like violist/composer Kenji Bunch, Mattie Kaiser of Classical Revolution PDX in Portland, and Lev Zhurbin in NYC -They are not waiting to be chosen – they created their path instead."
My name is Mattie. I play the viola. I'm here to make the world a better place through music, and I want you to be a part of that.
I am so grateful to all of you who help keep the flame ignited. THANK YOU.