John Curro was an Australian violinist, violist, conductor and music director. John was a beautiful soul, so intrinsically entwined in his love and passion for music. This strong sense of purpose touched many he encountered, including myself. He was one of the many people I can luckily call my musical mentor.
When I heard of John’s passing recently, my first memory of him caused me to smile, rather than to shed a tear. I heard his voice say, “the Khachaturian violin concerto is supposed to go for 45 mins, I bet you play it in 38…are you SURE you want to go that fast?” I don’t remember my response but within five seconds the two of us were walking on stage together. He was conducting the Queensland Youth Orchestra (of which he was the founder) and I was the soloist performing the Khachaturian violin concerto.
Now before every performance I have that same flashback. I hear his chuckle before I walk on stage and his question, “are you SURE you want to go that fast?”
As soon as that memory finishes, I see myself in a lift at the Bravo cruise in 2017. The doors shut and I’m standing there with Joseph Tawadros (Oud virtuoso and composer). I’m complaining about a particularly fast solo passage we have together in an upcoming performance. He looks at me with a cheeky look and says, “and now I’ll do it even faster, just to annoy you”. I remember replying defiantly, “challenge accepted” as he left.
This is not a post about playing fast!
Life for me, has so many musical memories attached to it . I can attach musical memories to my saddest moments, my happiest moments and the moments of fear or rage. Every event and every person in my life comes with some sort of random musical snapshot.
Little snippets of my musical life play during my life endlessly. It has made me realise my purpose in life and why I am driven to teach and perform.
My purpose is to cling on to those snapshots and continuing creating them for not just myself, but my students as well.
As one student rolled their eyes at me in orchestra last week, I turned to her and said “you played at the Sydney Opera House this year thanks to this orchestra. I challenge you to tell me that that wasn’t one of the best memories you have of this year”. She nodded. I’m sure that particular performance (thanks to her musical studies) will be one of the best memories in her year, and maybe even her life. I feel grateful for helping her create this musical memory for her life.
By teaching I feel that I’m giving students the tools to make their own memories. Whether it be a memory of participating in Sydney Youth Orchestra, sitting an exam or performing at our end of year concert, Our students can create joyful memories with music. It may even mean being able to busk with friends this Christmas or helping them use music to overcome obstacles in their life.
Music may not define your purpose in life, nor may it even define your child’s. But I believe that music can play a huge role in giving you the tools to experience more emotions, more memories and more humanity via music. I am grateful every day for being able to carry out my purpose in life and play a small part in this for our students.
What musical memories do you have?