The virtues of a long, hard, sweaty concert.

Tonight, I gave my second-ever performance of the Tchaikovsky A minor piano trio with my excellent ICA colleagues, Patrick and Jocelyn.

This piece is an absolute beast, clocking in at close to fifty-five minutes. Written in memory of Tchaikovsky's recently deceased loved one, it's a tour de force of tragedy and pathos, with long relentless passages of grief that challenge your physical and emotional stamina. 

Tonight wasn't my prettiest night, in spite of all my efforts to stay present, relaxed, and hydrated. It was really hot onstage, and twenty-five minutes into the performance, my hands were grimy with sweat. The sweat at my collarbone made it difficult even to keep the violin in playing position. I was dying for a glass of water. On page 22 (of 23!), I was so mentally exhausted that I dropped a couple of passages entirely.

If I was unsure before, I'm sure now: playing an instrument is physical labor.

Yet in spite of the challenges that today's performance brought, I feel deep pride for what my colleagues and I were able to accomplish. We had just four rehearsals to bring this gigantic piece to life, and we practiced our parts amidst many other commitments. To be a good chamber musician, a true performing artist, in this fast-paced capitalist world is not easy. Without question, playing with Patrick and Jocelyn -- and being part of ICA generally -- has challenged me to take my artistry, and my courage in performance, to a new level. 

Such growth is rarely comfortable. There are times that I question whether all the work is worth it, or whether I'm the right person to do it. But at the end of a day, it's a privilege to be able to do this work. To tackle a big challenge, to learn new things about music, your instrument and yourself, and finally to present a monumental work of art to people who want to hear it. Once the process is over, you're left with some really strong arm muscles and an expanded sense of what you're capable of.

ICA is entering its tenth season, and I'm so grateful to be the violinist on the roster. It's hard to fathom the amount of hard work and love that Patrick and many others have poured into this organization. Their decade of hard work has paid off. A space has been created for music to come alive, and for a supportive community to gather around that music.

Hearty, hearty congratulations on your 10th season, ICA! And thank you for making me a part of this. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go soak in a bathtub for awhile.