"I know, Mom. He's somebody really important. But this week we're both just musicians."
My sweet daughter Evie, now fifteen-years-old, is a member of the San Francisco Girls Chorus. (You can listen to some samples here. They're astonishingly good.) She's doing a pair of concerts this weekend with Jon Nakamatsu, the 1997 Van Cliburn Gold Medalist.
"You know, like when we were working with Christopher O'Riley and I didn't really realize until later how important he was. Kinda like that. I just like to focus on the fact that we're all equals who are working together."
"He is REALLY good," she admitted. "It's kind of like when you're playing for me. I don't even notice him. He's just always there."
OK, well I don't know about that part - but I do know that a number of things are coming full circle in my life this week.
Jon Nakamatsu and I judged together at the Van Cliburn Amateur Competition in 2002. It was an amazing experience which I wrote about in My Simple Vote. I have respected his playing and him as a person for many years.
I thought about the performance videos I could share with Evie - hoping to impress her with his skill. But that's kinda silly because my favorite video of him is this one. Please ignore the poor quality. Trust me, it's worth your time. If you've seen it before, I suggest taking the time to watch it again. It always surprises me.
This Saturday's concert takes place at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, a place that is dear to my heart. I was born when my father was Pastor of this church. The building stands today because of financial decisions that were made when he was still Pastor in the 1960's. Following its severe damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, it was retrofitted and restored to its original beauty. It is a glorious place to make music.
My father made music here each week when I was a child - singing the liturgy and whatever part they were short on in the choir. He was a jack-of-all-trades musician, singing any part and playing almost any instrument. He earned his way through seminary playing in a dance band. When I was a little girl he used to wear his clerical collar to sneak into the jazz clubs in North Beach where he became friends with people like Count Basie and Oscar Peterson.
Evie probably doesn't remember much about being baptized in this church when she was four years old. She had fancy new hair barrettes for the occasion. When the pastor started the ceremony, Evie piped up with, "Should I take off my barrettes?" Pastor Elizabeth smiled. "No, Evie. They're just fine."
The Pastor went ahead. "Evie with the barrettes," she said, "I baptize thee in the name of the..."
This Saturday Jon will also be playing the splendid Schumann-Liszt Widmung, the same piece I played in this same space at my brother's wedding many years ago.
It's been five years this month since my father passed away. He would have been so proud to see beautiful Evie singing in this space. I know he'll be listening.