The Latin term, Amicitia, means ‘friendship’. My best friend of thirty-one years and I chose this word as the name of our new clarinet duo- an ensemble based on friendship and a long shared history. We are on our first official recital tour of the ensemble, playing and presenting Masterclasses at several universities in Florida. This trip has an extra special significance to us, as it follows a long summer of treatments for Diane’s breast cancer. She is truly one of my heroes, turning her health challenge into an opportunity to share her experiences with those who are facing cancer. She inspires me and so many others every single day.
My friendship with Diane is one of the great joys of my life. Our pianist says that he finds us by listening for the laughter- a high compliment, in my opinion (we may or may not have traumatized our pianist with all of our antics, but he’s being a good sport no matter what.). This has been quite an adventure, starting with a recital at UAB before we drove the big white rental car to Florida. Our performance at Florida State was extra special- so many memories from our time studying there. We met at FSU during our undergraduate study, Diane going back to complete her Doctoral degree there, as well. We had a wonderful time team teaching in a masterclass with the clarinet studio, then performing our recital in the evening. It touched me that so many people came up to us and told us they loved our chemistry on stage. How gratifying to know that others can see and sense our joy and the fun we are having making music together. What a gift.
With every recital we play on this tour, the more our playing gels, the more our friendship comes through in the music. We had a colleague tell us this evening that we were more like sisters than friends, and that made us happy, as it is so true. We work hard on stage, but behind the scenes we laugh and talk and cry…whatever either of us needs. There has been a lot of laughter on this trip, something we both needed after Diane’s challenging summer. That’s what friends do- they are there for each other through good times and bad, in complete love, support, and trust. Looking over my music stand at Diane as we play is an incredible joy, the wordless communication something that could only happen with two people who have such a long history together.
Love and friendship are truly the greatest gifts to ever give or receive. There is a special magic to them that sustains us, encourages us, and makes us better human beings. My life has been so rich with wonderful people like Diane whose love flows so freely. The light of friendship brings connection and understanding, canceling out divisiveness and anger, and so I guard and nurture my friendships carefully. It all boils down to love, the great balm of the world. Being able to combine friendship with our passion for music and having the opportunity to share it with audiences makes for some wonderful music making. I am so grateful. Now, off to our next performance…it’s time to make some music…with a lot of laughter on the side.