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Emily Grossman

September 20, 2005 at 8:25 PM


We had three performances at the public school lined up, and the first would be for the K-4th graders. Really, I thought I would be more nervous than I was, but something felt different about today, about being in Unalaska as a paid professional musician, supported by three other highly competent musicians whom I respect and admire. We all might have had a little nerves, but deep down I was feeling something growing: confidence. Someone must believe in my abilities to have asked me to come here. As I gazed out over my audience of tiny faces with eager arms raised to answer whatever question I was getting ready to ask about the violin, I realised something. They were quite harmless! I hoped they liked what they were about to hear. My tale was a spooky one that began at the stroke of midnight, when all the ghosts and skeletons came out to dance a waltz to the tune of the devil’s interval. The excitement mounts and spins out of control until suddenly, at the crow of the rooster, they scatter back into the shadows to escape the approaching dawn. It’s deliciously frightening. I found myself having fun up there as I picked out different children to watch as I played. The first performance was not bad at all.

The second performance was better. But the third... Something happened on the stage that I don’t recall experiencing ever before (well, at least not since that performance of the Lees Fantasia my senior year in high school). I became a performer. My hands relaxed, my mind cleared, and I left all those little nagging fears behind. There on the stage, I performed that piece better than I ever did at home in my studio.

Afterward, while I was still high from the experience, I was surprised to find out that it had been recorded–badly recorded, but still... I hadn’t heard what I sounded like since high school, and I was curious to see what really happened on the stage. I listened. Holy cow! You wouldn’t believe how much of the bad stuff never makes it to the audience and how much the good stuff actually does! I was pleased. No, I was laughing out loud at the affirmation that came to my ears. What a change, after all the critical nit-picking and mental abuse I put myself through for so many months. Yeah, there’s lot’s of room for improvement, but I’m on my way! I celebrated with a seared ahi tuna steak, rare, with ginger and wasabi. Mmm. Come what may for Saturday’s concert, I was pleased with Thursday.

That evening, we drove up to see the war relics on the hillside. Before coming to Unalaska, I didn’t know that 10,000 people were stationed there during WWII, and that the US fought the Japanese there. I poked around some dilapidated buildings and went for a run back to the hotel. Only, I couldn’t remember how to get back to the hotel, and I ended up down at the docks with the crab pots, looking at birds. Luckily, it’s a small town, so I was able to find my way home before dark.

Gun Turret overlooking Bering Sea

WWII Ruins

Danse Macabre (No, I didn't perform like this.)

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 21, 2005 at 1:28 AM
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 22, 2005 at 3:24 AM
Congratulations on your performance, Emily. It must be a great feeling.

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