A Collection of Performance Memoires from over the years ....

At the opening of Raven’s Stadium, the Baltimore Symphony called me and asked if I wanted to play two Pops services with them. I was very excited since it was one of my first times playing with them. I got the music a week before and practiced very hard. On the day of the concert I found out the soloist was sick and was going to be replaced by Stevie Wonder. I had an hour to learn a brand new hand-written piece that I had never seen and that would be a duet with Stevie. The performance went perfectly. I really learned how to block everything out and "be in the moment"!

There was no hope anymore. My six month-old daughter, Eliana, was being kept alive only by a machine. This was the second time she had almost died, and this time it seemed sure that she would not make it. I had played in hospitals before. In chemotherapy units, ICUs, emergency and dialysis rooms, even for the dying. I had always put my heart into my music for those patients and I felt deeply for them. Yet, on this night with my daughter, my heart seemed to have stopped and turned to ice. I didn’t know what to do, but play, play, and play some more. There is no coincidence that there is only a one letter difference between play and pray. My playing is praying. My comfort when there are no words anymore. Music can bring miracles. My daughter is one of them. 

Shortly after 9/11 I had the opportunity to audition for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Ever since, I can never listen to Mahler’s Adagietto without tears streaming down my face. The combination of playing the Mahler with the amazing conductor, Yuri Termirkanov at Carnegie Hall along with the chance to play even more concerts was the material from which dreams were made. I was so nervous at first, but I soon forgot myself and played instead for the victims. They were so nearby I could feel them. I could almost see them there in the place where the twin towers had stood—now a gaping hole. This healing piece of music lifted us above the mundane and the suffering, uniting us in our fragile humanity. We gathered together connected by that soothing sound of hope.

© 1996- 2020  Harpist Astrid Walschot-Stapp