(Join us TONIGHT if you can! Two pianos for Samaritan Ministries)
Just as the entire set of Goldberg Variations presents Bach’s multi-faceted approach to a simple bass line, Variation 23 is itself a multi-faceted, sparkly gem of virtuoso playfulness. At first hearing it might seem closer to scattered than faceted, but for me Bach is always in control of the message, and it’s a positive one.
Have you ever noticed that you become a different person with the various people you encounter in your life? I can be quiet and thoughtful, or silly and talkative, guarded or an open book, authoritative or accommodating. It depends on the kind of relationship I have with someone, but all of those ways of being are authentic to me, part of my multi-faceted personality.
I found myself in the “gig economy” not so long ago. That’s a concept with which millennials are well acquainted, though plenty of baby boomers find themselves there too. Being multi-faceted in today’s gig economy forces us to polish those facets of who and what we are. That might be difficult, but ultimately empowering sometimes, and just might uncover creative paths we hadn’t considered before.
The gig economy gives us freedom to work when and where we want, coupled for many, however, with the insecurity of where your health insurance comes from, not to mention a next paycheck. Thinking about all the downsides of the gig economy are not today’s topic though. This variation’s glittering music makes me want to concentrate on the value of being versatile, dexterous, conversant with complexity, adroit with intricacy. I’ll continue to polish my facets to better reflect the light I see in each of you.
I’ve lived with Bach’s Goldberg Variations for a long time now. More than half my lifetime in fact. I would pull them out periodically, feeling that I was revisiting an old friend, but a friend who always has something new to share. I began thinking about Bach and mindfulness last year in a way that meant something to me. Each variation became linked in my mind with a word and that word became something like the “intention” that yoga students are sometimes asked to set for their practice. A word to mediate on and to help draw more from within. For the next 32 weeks I will post one of the variations and write about the word I associated with the music. Sometimes a connection will seem obvious, but more often it will be unexplainable. It became apparent as I worked on this project that I thought about things which I wanted to cultivate in myself, ways of being in the world that were positive. All of the recordings are to be made in my living room, playing the 9 foot Steinway that was given to me on January 5, 2016.