Chopin, Heart-Sight Clarity, & Everything Is Different

When the pianist sat down on the stage, Dallas leaned over and whispered to me, “as soon as he touches those keys, everything will be different.” And he was right––as he mostly is. Dallas met me at the concert hall 7 minutes early. I was there 20 minutes early to make some photographs. We’re always early. And we had no problem spotting each other. Dallas is tall, lean, and distinct. I’m usually alone in a corner or perched somewhere high up to get a good view with my camera. So, naturally, we spotted each other––no “I’m here” texts required. I saw him walking up the stairs; he saw me perched on the highest tier, camera at the ready. I waved; he melted to the floor in an “of course” gesture. Everything was different after tonight. Because so much was the same.

Chopin. His concerto is clear; it is delicate; it pierces the heart. It causes what I call a “heart puddle” in my entire body. Everything melts, starting with the heart, and softens me to an open place of perception where nothing matters but the sounds, the tones, the rhythms running through me.

At intermission we gushed about Arvo Pärt, Seymour, the complex love and intimacy that flows in and out of our lives because it’s all music to us. Later I told Dallas that I first discovered Pärt’s profound compositions as a 14-year-old in our basement where my dad would host the fanciest music appreciators and donors in the community. He’d have monthly “music parties” with 80-something-year-old Brooklyn Jewish women, the opera’s premier sopranos and tenors, and anyone else who could endure my father’s endless lecturing. There was enough music for me to quietly sit on the stairs, listening in. And that’s when I heard Fratres. It was as if I was hearing myself for the first time––this was how I felt about existence, about the world, and about my place in it. I have a soundtrack for my life and I discovered it when I was 14, and it’s still the same.

Dallas found Pärt when he sang his Magnificat. And he told me there are more Estonian composers that I need to know because they’ve moved him and they will melt me.

We tried to get the ushers at the symphony to introduce us to the guest pianist, but they didn’t think we were charming or amusing. Usually the conductor sneaks the performer away to a local wine bar, but even though the program says he’s 23-years-old, I’m pretty sure he was only 12. So they probably didn’t sneak him off to the wine bar––we checked. He wasn’t there.

It didn’t matter though. Because I am still feeling the heart-sight clarity of a performance so real and physical. He didn’t open his eyes once. He was breathing heavy and sweating with the work that made it all look like an effortless dance that any of us could join. We did join the dance. Fully. Completely. Chopin is in me for a good few days. And everything is different.

This is resonance. I’m soaking it in. Never rushing a cadence.

Ann Whittaker