I had my last civic concert last night, which could conceivably be seen as an end to my life as a career musician. I've no plans to stop playing anytime soon, but it's fairly doubtful that I will ever again make the majority of my income from my music. As such, it was a fairly major event for me, and in many ways a sad one. I've truly loved my life in music, even when I thought I was going to freakin' die if I had to play, say, Mahler 1 ever ever ever again. (I did, and it was fine.) And it's difficult for me to give up on a dream that I've been cherishing for just over a decade. I remember exactly when I decided that this was what I wanted: I was in Las Vegas at a music festival in the summer of 1997, and Scott Yoo, one of our mentors and teachers and a passionate and opinionated violinist and conductor, asked the crowd of students around him whether this was what they wanted to do. That music festival was the first time really that I'd been surrounded by brilliant and older people who absolutely loved what they did, and it inspired me. I said yes, this is it for me, and I never really let that go until now.
But alas, sometimes a fifteen-year-old girls dreams have to be put to sleep. As much as I love music, and as much as it hurts me to think about possibly never experiencing certain things again -- the joy and clarity of Mozart with a great orchestra, the intense emotional output of a Shostakovitch string quartet, the absolute clarity of playing Stravinsky well (an anal, detail-oriented person's wet dream) -- I feel like it's time to move on. For every good Mozart moment there are thirty absolutely awful ones, and I don't have to constitution anymore to stick it out. Nor am I suited to the audition circuit; one of my teachers at Northwestern constantly told me that I was an excellent orchestra player but I'd never win a job because I just wasn't a soloist. As unkind as this could sound, I'm inclined to agree with him.
So while I'll miss this dream, I am starting to look for new ones. I am starting to think more about going the librarian route, or maybe something else will come my way. In the meantime, I'll keep playing my weird-ass contemporary music (slide whistles, anyone?) and doing whatever else I can. Chamber music will hopefully still exist in my life, as will gigs and maybe even the occasional Mozart moment.