Day Four: Out and About on the Streets of Madrid

  Me with our wonderful ICA President, Maxine Ramey. I am learning so much from her solid leadership. 

Today has been long and full, with lots of walking up and down the hilly streets of Madrid, and greeting the slew of clarinet players who have begun arriving for ClarinetFest. The festival begins tomorrow morning, and the streets are teeming with wonderfully diverse and eclectic clarinetists of all ages and all shapes and sizes from all over the world. You can recognize them with their clarinet cases on their backs, faces breaking out into grins when they recognize a friend or see a clarinet hero walking toward them. The already exciting city of Madrid has a whole new vibe of excitement and anticipation for the inspiration and musical gifts that the next five days will bring. 

After our morning Board meeting, one of my colleagues and I decided to get out and take a long walk around the city to run some errands, check on the registration situation, and just get some exercise after long hours of meetings. The more I walk around Madrid, the more I fall in love with the city. It doesn’t affect me the way Florence did (I don’t know if any place will move me quite the way Florence did.), but I like the feel of the city. There is a certain laid-back energy- people are on the move, but not necessarily in a huge rush to get there. They sit at tables at sidewalk cafes for hours, enjoying tapas and conversation – a maybe a cigarette. The waiter are in no hurry, either- to serve you, bring the bill, or collect payment. The whole city seems to whisper, “What’s the hurry? Life is to be savored!” A lesson I seem to always need a refresher course on…

We came across a beautiful park with an impressive fountain and statuary, and spent some time walking around and studying everything. Again and again I am reminded how much history has taken place here, events that shaped our world. Such a different way of thinking for us as Americans, as our country is still so young. I am always humbled as I walk cobblestone streets that could tell such stories of life, and of death, of one era marching slowly to the next. I can watch the people (and their dogs) for hours, a diverse group of citizens, some dressed formally, some dressed for the heat wave that has hit Madrid just in time for ClarinetFest – 100 degrees today. 
   Tomorrow I play on the morning Board recital that will kick off the festival. There will be lots of stress and many details to take care of. I am working hard to focus on the many gifts of this trip…and keep my mind on playing for my mom and my best friend, Diane, who is home battling breast cancer. I will touch the small button of Mom’s that is pinned in my case before I go on stage. I’m looking forward to performing – and to having the stress of it off of me. Then on to listening to the cadre of amazing artists who are here, learning new literature, learning new ways of doing things, and meeting new people. So much to see and do. 

The days of stress, fatigue, and missing Dan got to me a bit this evening, and as I recorded a Glide message to my best friend, the tears came in a torrent. They were healing tears, though, reminding me to get some much-needed sleep. I will have to be up and going early so that I can do some pre-recital yoga and meditation. Anything I can do to stay focused and calm in a good thing. My best reminder…breathe. 

I hope to get back out on the streets again soon to take photos of the centuries old city that has melded with modern day Madrid. It is fascinating to see the two blended together so beautifully. But right now…sleep.  Tomorrow will be an exciting day that lasts until midnight, and I need to be ready to soak it all in. 


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