Up In the Air

February 1, 2017
For my colleagues who travel a great deal for a living, and for the many young hopefuls who desire an international career in the arts; this post is worth scanning:

2017 surely started off with a bang with the continuation of a multi-year performance/recording project with the venerable Hong Kong Philharmonic (HK Phil), and (the now minted in pure gold) Jaap van Zweden conducting. The subject matter is Richard Wagner’s mighty ‘Ring’ Cycle. Without going into reams of details on the project itself–which I have covered in the past, suffice it to say it is long, hard, intense, and no-nonsense…especially when trying to capture a ‘live’ recording for distribution (Naxos).

But the title of this post is “Up in the Air”, with its not so subtle reference to the film that featured George Clooney’s character flying around the country almost daily. Unfortunately, his task was to travel and explain to work-forces both large and small that they were being downsized out of a job. He had logged some 10 million air miles in the process.

While I have flown over 2 million air miles myself (which is no small amount of time “up in the air”), my tasks have been more pleasant. I now look back in less than a week, and remember climbing “up in the air” and looking out the window of the Boeing 777-200 jet aircraft. I gazed down upon a sprawling, but very densely populated Hong Kong. Resplendent from “up in the air”, with towering buildings, mountainous terrain, interconnecting bridges that link the small island chains, and then two magnificent sides of Hong Kong (Hong Kong Island/Kowloon), split down the middle by Victoria Harbor. For a few moments, with a very successful musical project completed down below, I felt as though I had almost conquered the world as I was now fully “up in the air” and headed toward 35,000 feet.

Of course, I didn’t conquer the world; but I did do my part in bringing to fruition the third installment of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (Siegfried). It was so successful that I have been “up in the air” since the final note was played, the last autograph signed, and the final photos taken. My colleagues were wonderful, my wife very supportive and proud, the audiences were thrilled, and the highest profile conductor in the world was very happy.

Here comes the hard part:
Upon returning to the United States, there are many suddenly sleepless nights…as one’s body still feels the affects of a 16 hour flight that crosses 10 time zones, and the International Date Line. All the result of literally being “up in the air”. I marvel at pilots and flight attendants who do this on a weekly basis. And hat’s off to all the business travelers who do the same, and my colleagues who must travel even more than I.

As I write this post it is 2:31 a.m. Central Standard Time in the U.S.A. My body won’t settle down, as it occasionally still feels upside-down, but for so many reasons–both professionally and physically–I think I am still just:

Up in the Air

**To those young hopefuls I mentioned earlier(???)…get prepared…this career can be a long haul (no ‘airline’ pun intended)!!