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Student Navigator Jennifer Woodrum reflects on her recent attendance at CMPI fellow Ella Saputra’s recital.

ellaThe day began like most other days with some peace and quiet, morning coffee and a quick workout.

Chaos ensued as the time came closer to leave for Ella’s recital. My husband and I both had to leave for our Sunday morning work and the babysitter was running late. I left the house 10 minutes later than planned but found comfort in the fact that there would likely be no traffic on a Sunday morning. I got on the highway, which was wide open, until I reached the point that was about four miles from the Madison Street exit. I voice texted Ella’s mom to let her know that I would be 5-10 minutes late and to start without me, chugging along at five miles an hour until I reached the exit.

I made it! I sat down in Gottlieb Hall and as if on cue, Ella walked onto the stage with her pianist, the bottom of her dark mauve chiffon dress elegantly swaying as she walked. She launched right into the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 4, highlighting the dramatic shifts from major to minor with stark contrast in articulation, dynamics and facial expression. The pianist and Ella were flawlessly synced.

I was transported to a place that I had not been in over a year. A ritual that, for me, resulted in both internal and external clarity and awareness. I was at a live solo recital, which up until March 2020 was something I experienced on a regular basis.

The ritual of live performance is like the Tibetan Singing Bowl that initiates deep meditation. The applause that welcomes the performers to the stage, the gracious bowing of the performers as they acknowledge and establish connection with the audience, sometimes the lights dim. As the first notes fill the hall, the mind abandons habitual activity and fully surrenders to the now, completely committed to taking the emotional journey mapped out by the performers on stage.

Like someone who had just completed a spiritual fast, after 16 months of virtual performances, I was ravenous for this experience — this ritual. I consumed it with all my being and throughout the performance, let my eyes well up with tears, the corners of my mouth turn up in smiles, my pulse quicken and then slow down and I let my heart overflow with emotion and fly.

This past year has presented itself to all of us as an opportunity to reset the way that we experience live music. When you sit down to hear live music this year, surrender to the ritual — set an intention to engage in active listening and open yourself up fully to the experience.

PHOTO: Ella Saputra at her solo recital

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